Reflections...How to Take Stock and Take Action!
By Lorie Rosenberg
One morning on our yearly trip to upstate New York, I was riding my bike up Route 10, which meanders along the west branch of the Sacandaga River. It’s a somewhat secluded road and goes past several lakes.
On the ride, I stopped by the side of the road near one of the lakes to look at the beautiful view. It was early in the morning, the mist had just evaporated from the lake, and the wind was calm, so the lake was as smooth as glass. You could see the surrounding mountain clearly reflected on the lake. What a peaceful and serene sight.
While I was stopped there, I got to thinking about reflections, which are mirror-like images. The image of the mountain was clearly reflected on the lake because there was no wind or other disturbance to mar the view. When I threw a rock into the water, I could see the ripple-like effect and the reflection became distorted and less apparent.
That’s a lot like life. When things are going well and there are no disturbances or troubles in your life, you can see clearly where you’re going and your path is clear. When challenges come into your life, your situation becomes choppy and turbulent and sometimes navigating through life can be difficult. You can’t always see clearly where you’re going or how you’re going to get there.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to do some reflection to help you determine if the path you’re on is right for you.
If your life is really busy and you're continually trying to keep up with all of your daily responsibilities and commitments, it may be the right time to hit the pause button for a moment and take a snapshot of your life...right here and right now. Take a good look at your “reflection” and see where you’ve been, how you got to where you are now, and determine what you want to do down the road.
It seems that life has gotten overwhelmingly complex and we seem to go from one obligation to the next without deliberately determining if we’re on the right path and if we’re living according to our own value set. Are we truly directing our lives or is our exterior environment determining the direction for us?
A few years ago, Ron and I decided that since our children were grown and out of the house, we would make a trip to upstate New York in the Adirondack Mountains to spend time with my family who all live in the area. We had moved away from there years before and had missed seeing my nieces and nephews grow up. Now they have their own children that I would like to get to know better.
So we packed up our office and put everything we needed into our car to make the 13-hour drive from North Carolina to New York. We looked like the Clampetts from the classic” TV show The Beverly Hillbillies, when they arrived in California with all their worldly possessions loaded on top of their beat-up old truck.
We had the bikes strapped on the back of the car, our kayaks on top, and all of the provisions for our trip practically busting out of the windows. It was amazing that everything we really needed could fit in, on top, or on the back of our car.
We examined our lives and our values and determined that spending more time with our family was important to us. Over the next few years, we gradually increased the length of our visit up north, and we plan to continue doing this as long as it makes sense.
Around that same time, we also took stock of how our business was completely burning us out. We were constantly working. We were either dealing with issues with the business or with the maintenance and upkeep of our house. We had to mow the lawn, trim the shrubs, water the plants, and blow off the patio, among other yard tasks. And we hardly had time to enjoy any of it. We were continually feeding the beast...either monetarily or with our physical sweat.
It got to a point where we decided that our house was too much for us to take care of. It wasn’t worth the time, effort, and financial commitment to maintain it.
So we decided it was time to downsize. Along with that, it was time to get rid of all of the “stuff” we had accumulated over the years and didn’t need anymore. We probably never really needed it, but at the time we enjoyed making those purchases.
If you haven’t really taken the time to reflect on your life, then maybe now is the perfect time to do something about it. So how do you actually accomplish that?
Goals and Objectives
It’s really a good idea to periodically make a list of your goals and objectives for various time frames. For instance, in the current month, in six months, one year, and possibly five years out.
Actually, you may want to think about what you want your life to look like when you’re in retirement and then work back to help you decide what you need to do right now to get there.
Most people live aimlessly and go where life leads them instead of trying to determine the direction of their lives.
When you have goals written down and available to you, it’s a lot easier working towards them. What’s even more important is putting deadlines on those goals. If you don’t have a deadline, there’s no real impetus to complete them on time.
Review and Reflection
Once you have your goals written down, you can periodically review them and see where you are and where you want to go. You may have a goal that is no longer relevant. You may decide that this goal is no longer important and you focus instead on another goal you’d like to accomplish.
Ron and I originally thought that we would stay in our home for another five years and then downsize. Based on a variety of factors, we decided to change the deadline for that goal. We felt that if we wanted to do more traveling, then we would have to get rid of some of the responsibilities that were consuming a lot of our time and money.
The key to your success in life is taking action. You can’t accomplish anything if you sit back and wait for things to happen to you. Reacting is not an optimal strategy, even though we do it often. There’s no way of avoiding it, but if you can be more proactive in your approach to life, you’ll get a lot farther, and in my opinion, you’ll be a lot happier.
And you won’t be able to blame anything or anybody else for where you are right now. Not taking action is essentially an action in itself. By not acting, you’re making a decision to remain in the status quo.
That may be okay for some people, but if you truly want to be successful in your life, you continually need to assess your situation right now, reflect on where you’ve been, how you’ve gotten there, and where you want to go.