There was a time I was the Queen of Setting Goals. I had rigid lists, sub-lists and categories: goals for writing, goals for yoga, goals for saving money. A five-year-plan and – always – the goal to lose ten pounds. A complex map for my life. A set of instructions to follow.
That’s how this year began. With a list of detailed plans. Such plans. All typed neatly, printed on bright white paper, color coded and taped to my linen closet door. I reviewed them each day and charted my progress: word counts, workouts, submissions and queries. I knew where I had been and where I was headed. Didn’t I? Of course I did – it was right there in black and white on my linen closet door.
That lasted about six weeks. I stopped looking at my linen closet door around the beginning of February. By late spring they were history.
I thought I had failed. The truth is I hadn’t learned the lesson.
Yesterday I was in Sunnyvale, headed back to Palo Alto. It was the morning of the day after Christmas. Traffic
was light and I drove north on El Camino Real. I was content to let my CRV stroll the six miles back home, even if I hit every red light. Until I reached the intersection of Highway 237. On a whim, I turned right.
For those of you who know the area this is no big deal. Unless you also know me. When I’m driving I don’t do “whims.” The car doesn’t move unless I know where I’m going. I need to see that the path ahead is clear. Last September the suggestion that I should drive an unfamiliar car, on an unfamiliar freeway following an unknown route was enough to turn me into a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. So turning right on 237 was a very big deal indeed.
And guess what happened?
I followed the signs, avoided heading toward Milpitas and sure enough, after taking the Middlefield exit and turning left on Ferguson I found Central Expressway – a faster, easier way to my home.
I know. It was a simple thing, turning right on 237 instead of driving straight ahead. But it revealed a big truth. Narrowing our focus to a list of resolutions taped to a closet door has nothing to do with life.
There will be no list this year. This year I have only one resolution.
This year I’m going to follow the signs and find my way home.
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