Today’s post is the featured article from the December 2011 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.
Sometimes we need more than a New Year’s resolution to make the most of this one way journey called life. Most New Year’s resolutions are slight adjustments … just a tweak or fine-tun
ing of the path we are already on. For some of us, that may be all we need. For others of us, what we really need is nothing short of a turning point.
The bigger question might be, how would you know?
It begins by paying attention. It is the difference of being on the freeway or the highway. Freeways are pretty straight-forward. There are a few crazy interchanges along the way and when you approach them you need to pay attention. When the freeways work their way through crowded cities they demand your attention as well. Even the busiest of us know to stay alert to the interchanges and congested moments of life. We wake-up for the moment, watch the signs and keep on going. Freeways might even serve as a good example of how we live life today … but are not the best example of life itself.
Life more resembles a highway.
Highways are different. They demand your constant attention … especially the two-lane highway. Most impose a slower speed limit. There are times when you need to speed-up to by-pass a slower car. And there are other times when you need to be patient until it is safe to pass. The highway, with its yellow lines, won’t always tell you when it is safe to pass, but will definitely let you know when it is not. Most of us can navigate all of this with minimal attention.
What demands your attention are the directional signs of the highway. In a moment’s notice you can arrive at an ordinary intersection. The road ahead looks just the same as the road you have traveled. But a subtle highway sign, on the shoulder of the road, indicates you need to turn right or left. While the road you are on continues straight ahead … your highway doesn’t.
You are at a turning point.
There is no New Year’s resolution that will help you if you don’t turn. You can resolve to obey the speed limit, to be more patient with slower drivers, or to no longer text and drive. All of these may very well be good and necessary adjustments. But if you miss the highway’s directional sign and go straight … you are still on the wrong road.
Turning points don’t happen because it is time to hang a new calendar. And they don’t happen because all of the sudden you decide to stop and reflect (although that is a good start). If you missed the turn back in October, simply making a New Year’s resolution on the wrong road in December doesn’t necessarily help. Turning points happen because we pay attention. They happen when we understand that life is like a highway … designed with twists and turns rather than a fast and furious straight pavement.
The key is “staying awake” all along the way.
Highways have directional signs at every critical intersection. But we have to notice them before we can follow them. There was a time when they were probably the only signs … they clearly stood out. Over time, many other distracting signs have been added along these pristine highways. Yet, the black and white highway signs are still the same … still there to guide you if you choose to notice them.
I know what you are probably thinking … just get a GPS. If it were only that easy! Many audiences have heard me say that, although I spend a lot of time at Starbucks, I love the tag-line of Caribou Coffee: Life is Short. Stay awake for it.™ What great advice for the New Year.
I love the start of a New Year just as much as the next person. But the start of a New Year is not near as important as your sense of awareness throughout the whole year. Any hour of any day of this New Year has the potential to be your turning point.
You will know it when you get there.
That is, if you choose to make your New Year’s resolution to “refuse-to-snooze” along the way!