Reflections and Their Ripple Effect!
For the past seven years we've been traveling to upstate New York to get out of the hot North Carolina summers and spend time with family. While we're there, we do a lot of biking to take in the beautiful scenery.
One morning as I was riding my bike up Route 10, which meanders along the west branch of the Sacandaga River, I stopped by the side of the road to take in the breathtaking 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 mountains clearly reflected on the lake. What a peaceful and serene sight.
While I was stopped there, I admired the reflection of the mountain that was clearly mirrored on the surface of the lake. There was no wind or other disturbance that would disrupt this beautiful image. When I threw a rock into the water, I saw the ripple-like effect on the surface and the reflection became distorted and less apparent.
That image can be 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 life seems to be a smooth ride. When challenges come into your life, the waters get choppy and turbulent and sometimes navigating them can be difficult. We can’t always see clearly where we’re going or how we’re going to get there.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to do a little of your own reflection to help you determine if the path you’re on is right for you.
Sometimes we get so caught up in our lives, trying to keep up with our responsibilities and commitments, without ever taking the time to periodically reflect where we’ve been, how we got to where we are currently, and where we want to go down the road. If this sounds like you, then maybe you need to hit the pause button for a moment and take a snapshot of your life...right here and now! It’s time to take a good look at your “reflection” and what it’s telling you.
Life has gotten to be overwhelmingly complex and it seems like every day we 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 of our path?
Seven 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 lives 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 The Beverly Hillbillies, when they arrived in California with all their worldly possessions loaded on top of their truck.
We had the bikes strapped on back of our SUV, 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. The next year we spent six weeks of our summer there and we've been staying for around two months ever since. And we plan to continue doing this as long as it’s right for us to do so.
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 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 to you and you determine another goal you’d like to accomplish.
The key to 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 people tend to 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 go anywhere in life, then you continually need to assess your situation, reflect on where you’ve been, how you got there, and where you want to go.
Life isn’t always smooth sailing. There may be some incredible challenges that will make the waters choppy, and it may be difficult to navigate your way through them.
But when you’re able to look at the reflection of your life and see your path unfold before you, the road forward is a lot easier. The challenge is understanding that your reflection doesn’t determine your outcome, it’s the actions you take along the way that turn that your goals into your reality!
Dr. Amy Walsh
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