Are we there yet? It’s the annoying question my children often ask from the backseat on a road trip to visit family. In my better moments I distract and entertain them with stories and games and if I’m lucky a nice long nap. In my lesser moments I retort, “Does it look like we have arrived?” Trapped in a car for hours has a way of putting us all on edge and make us impatient to reach our destination.
My life often resembles this type of road trip. The sages encourage us to “enjoy the journey” and “stop and smell the roses,” but most of the time I really just want to get there already! I certainly have not arrived and often find myself asking “Are we there yet?” like my car-dazed kids. While the answer to this question is always a resounding “No,” it does invite further introspection as I consider where in the world I’m going anyway.
Before we can effectively answer the question “Are we there yet?” we must determine where “there” is. What is my destination? For me, there are usually several answers to this question, all of which point to a distant spot on the horizon that is perpetually beyond reach. But it is this vision for the future that keeps me moving toward it. I am insatiably drawn to that distant destination.
When I lose sight of where I’m going, then all I am is a kid trapped in a car traveling endless miles of road. However, my perspective changes when I have an endpoint and a way to mark my progress. Like mile markers and GPS predictions of arrival times, keeping track of the journey lets me know how far I’ve come and how far I have to go.
So, I revisit my goals frequently. They are my map for getting from here to there. Like a map, my goals tell me what roads to take to arrive at the intended location. They serve as a guide for my decision-making and help me track my progress. When I reach one goal, there are always more to take its place, each one fitting into the overarching vision I have for my life.
Sometimes the vision seems utterly unreachable, and maybe it is. Perhaps I will never fully become the person I want to be or achieve every item on my bucket list. But I sure do want to try. The future doesn’t always turn out like I think it will, in fact, most of the time it doesn’t. Still, by planning for the future, I keep moving forward instead of getting stuck in the daily grind.
By keeping an eye on that spot on the horizon, I gain a new perspective on today. There is more beyond this problem or that challenge. Interestingly, humans tend to have a generally optimistic outlook. We usually assume things will be better in the future. Life will turn out okay. Obstacles will be overcome. This attitude works in my favor when I am planning for the future because it offers hope for tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow I will “arrive,” or maybe the next day. In the meantime, I will keep traveling the road laid out by the beautiful vision I see just beyond me.
Each person’s vision is different. What you want your life to look like is probably different than what I want from my life, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s a beautiful display of human diversity and expression. The point is that each of us must keep moving with fresh vigor for the destination we are trying to reach.