How can you tell if you are straying from your path…or if your path is straying from you?

This is a new idea I am exploring. How can you tell when you are off your path, or if in fact it is your path that is off?

While you may have chosen a given path, as I have mentioned time and again paths will shift. They will be filled with bumps and twists and turns. Seldom are they straight, and because of this it can be easy to stray from the path you intend to be on.

If you get caught up in the routine, even the routine of your own choosing, and you fail to check in with yourself and how you are thinking, feeling and acting, you may find that you have strayed from your path. Sure you are traveling along on your journey, but you are on a grassy knoll and you see your path winding along beside you.

This is how you can tell that you have strayed from your path. You may no longer be upon it, but you can still see it, still shift easily over to it. Presuming that you are on the right path after all, you can readily make the necessary adjustments to return to it.

Now if you have been constantly checking in with how you are thinking, feeling and acting, and you have been cautious to travel with all the twists and turns and bumps and shifts of the path…yet you see the path has veered off somehow where you did not intend for it to go, your path may be straying from you.

Why? How does the path you are on stray?

Let’s say you are on the path to that promotion at work. You are doing all the right things, you are getting commendations and compliments and tons of positive feedback. Your path is clear, you have gone with the flow and handled every obstacle and misstep…

And then you get laid off due to downsizing.

You did not stray from that path – that path strayed from you.

This is a more literal example, as more often than not this occurrence will likely be much more subtle in the overall notion of Pathwalking. But that is how a path may stray from you. In this literal instance, of course, there is no returning to THAT path. So – you choose anew.

What’s the difference between this and you straying from the path?

I have been told by other writers that there are several types of writers. Two in particular have been brought to my attention. The first is the Planner. The planner plots out every twist and turn in the story, outlines his or her chapters, has a precise intent for every word that will be put on the page.

Then there is the Pantser. This is a writer who writes by the seat of his or her pants, so to speak. There is likely no plot outline, only the loosest, most vague notion of plot, and you go where your world, your characters and the story you are trying to tell takes you.

I am the latter. I write by the seat of my pants. I have written five novels to date that began with a character or characters and a scene, and from there I end up with a whole story and a convoluted but interesting plot. I don’t know until I have written it what a character might do, I may find myself writing out a scene I never expected, and the plot may not become fully clear til I am two-thirds of the way through my work.

I set a course, I have a path…and I stray from it. It may be that I can easily jump back to it, or it may require analysis for me to determine if it needs to be changed.

Once again, this is a literal example, and in the general concept of Pathwalking what you may encounter will likely be more understated.

In both instances, however, you can take control. If you have strayed from your path, you can choose to return to it. If your path strays from you, you can choose what to do next. Whatever the case may be, it is important that you not just let your chosen path carry you along. You need to keep in constant communication with yourself.

That means you need to examine along the way how you are feeling, what you are thinking, and how you are acting in order to walk the path you have chosen. This is something to be done frequently in order to assure that you are where you intended to be.

This is not a ton of additional work, this is an easily overlooked and neglected aspect of one’s Pathwalk. This is a reminder that you can’t just do this at the start of a path, but all along the journey. Because, as cliché as it may be, the journey is what it is all about.

Do you know how you are feeling, what you are thinking, and how you are acting?

 

This is the one-hundred forty seventh entry in my series. These weekly posts are specifically about walking along the path of life, and my desire to make a difference in this world along the way. Feel free to re-blog and share.  Thank you for joining me.

The first fifty-two weeks (Year One) of installments of Pathwalking is available in print and for your Kindle.