I often go through the motions of preparing without even thinking about what I’m preparing for. If I’m getting ready for a big trip, I book my travel plans, obtain my visa, lay out my clothes and take out my favorite travel items from my secret stow-away place. I do an obligatory trip to REI. I organize and I re-organize. And the next thing I know, I’m on an airplane and I haven’t even had a chance to think about where I’m going. I experience this sensation over and over, not only in travel, but also in everyday life.
When I think back to the days when I used to swim competitively, I am always amazed that I knew exactly where I was going. I had a clear vision of what I was training for – a major swim meet, a national team cut, or a personal best. When the moment arrived for me to step up and compete, I was energized, charged, ready to take on any competitor who would try and steal my glory.
Nowadays, I find myself moving through the motions, but I don’t know what I’m training for. I work hard, I try to improve my overall well-being, but sometimes I don’t recognize when I’ve finally achieved success. Is it when I’ve been staffed on a killer international development project that will take me around the world? Is it when I’ve pulled off the big meeting I have been prepping for? Is it when I feel the appreciation of friends and family around me just because I showed up?
In the work environment, I find that a lot of people (including myself) know what we don’t want to do, but when asked what we want to do, we have a hard time articulating exactly what it is. Perhaps all the time I invest in prepping, organizing and researching would be better spent if I had a clear outcome that I’ve thought through. That way, the next time I board a plane, or enter a new path I’ll know exactly where I’m going and not wonder how the heck I arrived in the middle of nowhere.