I want to walk my own path, but there are multiple goals I want to achieve. How do I choose?
While it is possible to head towards more than one goal at a time, I find it often necessary to prioritize. Sometimes this is purely organizational, sometimes its to prevent putting the cart before the horse.
An important thing we need to acknowledge and take into account before this discussion goes much further – Pathwalking is about the path. The journey is of equal or greater importance than the goal at its end. This is a large aspect of why we choose to walk our own Path, because we want greater control over the choices we have and make. And while this is directed at the goals, the path cannot be denied or ignored.
Isn’t this a contradiction? Simply put, no. Yes, I am choosing a path I care to walk, and in all probability there is an end goal in mind – but I am choosing the PATH to the goal. And that’s important to acknowledge.
This can of course take on a number of different forms. For example, choosing how to get to point ‘a’ from point ‘b’ is going to make a huge difference in the path you will take. If I want to get from New York City to Chicago, there are a wide variety of paths, and how much control I have over each.
If I fly, my path is shortest. New York to Chicago is a couple hours. The biggest choice in this path will be which airlines, non-stop versus connections, and from which airport I fly to/from. The fewest options are available here. For the purpose of Pathwalking, this is the direct route.
If I choose to go by rail, once again there are some variations – I can choose to make different stops, and there are some route variations. But again, I am limited by the tracks that have been laid between the two cities, and it will be a longer trip than flying. For our purposes, let’s consider this the semi-direct route.
But if I choose to drive, now my path has a huge number of variables. Which highway(s) do I take? Do I choose to stop along the way, drive straight through? What if I see a sign on the road, and take a detour or another route altogether to check something out I had not planned on? Do I travel the speed limit, or drive faster and take my chances with getting a ticket? And there are many more options of course. This is the indirect route.
Each choice of path has its validity, but the path is none-the-less important. And this is entirely true of the paths I choose for my life. But this is something you have to give serious consideration to when choosing a path.
Sometimes the shorter path is utterly valid. If I want to learn how to swim as soon as possible, I need to take swimming lessons. If I take a lesson a day I will know how to swim a lot faster than if I take a lesson a week or even a lesson a month. Either way, like flying, this is the most direct route.
Let’s say I want to get a job as an accountant. In order to do this, I have to get my CPA. There are several choices of school available for me to do this, but once I make a choice, and get my certificate, now I can seek an accounting job. Limited routes, limited tracks – this is the semi-direct route.
And then there are times that the goal can be achieved through a number of means. I want to be a writer. So I choose to write this blog, I have short stories and novels and journalism I work on, and I am constantly seeking new outlets and venues to get published, taking different jobs and opportunities along the way, while submitting proposals to agents for representation for my fiction. Maybe I even self-publish some of my work as well. I become a writer, in numerous venues and through numerous routes, but this is most certainly the indirect route.
And these three options are the key to prioritizing multiple goals. Can I achieve each via multiple direct routes, semi-direct routes, or indirect routes? OR do I need a combination of the above?
If my end goal is to have a great career, an amazing relationship and a lot of money (my personal definition of wealth) for example, the means to the end are going to be many and varied. I probably need an education of some sort for a great career (more-or-less the direct route), dating to find the amazing relationship will probably be the semi-direct and/or indirect route, and acquiring a lot of money will likely be totally indirect.
Which comes first? What if the initial career I choose is less than satisfying, and I decide on a wholly different direction? What if the relationship I thought was perfect fails? There are always going to be tangible and intangible variables along the path, but having choices is not a curse, it is the gift that lets us Pathwalk.
Prioritizing the path for me involves choosing if my route will be direct, semi-direct or indirect. Likely it is in that order that I will proceed with multiple goals. And yes, I recognize that my direct route COULD turn indirect (planes do get re-routed and even crash from time to time) but that does not change my choice of walking my own path.
Yes, this is a complex, multi-faceted, ever-evolving, often convoluted process, this Pathwalking. Is it worth it? Yes. Because while choices can be hard to make and filled with different consequences, they are still MINE, and still chosen. And thus I am choosing the life I most desire, and choosing to walk MY own unique path.
Do you choose your own adventures, or let you life’s circumstances dictate the paths you are on?
This is the sixty-eighth 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. Thank you for joining me.