Define your destination so you know when you get there

Depending on what you want, it may be just fine to allow the wind to blow you where it will. If you want something specific, however, you need to define your destination and know what it will look like when you get there.

When my family set off from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska on our bikes, our destination was clear – Ushuaia, 17,000 miles away in Tierra del Fuego. We knew where we were headed and we knew when we got there. It was a clearly defined goal and there was no ambiguity about what success would look like – when we pedaled up to that sign at the end of the world, we would know we had arrived.

Many goals in life are clearly defined like ours:

  • Get a university degree – you’ll know you’ve succeeded when you step on to the stage and receive your diploma
  • Sail around the world – when you arrive back at your home port, you’ll know you’ve made it

Knowing when we arrived was easy for a goal like ours – we had arrived at our destination when we parked our bikes next to the “End of the World” sign – but many goals in life aren’t so tangible:

  • Starting your own business – how do you know when you’ve “succeeded”?
  • Mastering a new technique – when have you truly mastered it?
  • Planning a project – when is it time to quit planning and start doing?

For any big goal in life, it’s important to define what your destination is – define what “success” looks like. If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, it’ll be easy to get swept away by all the detours life will throw at you.

And make no mistake – life WILL throw detours at you. As you slowly make way toward your goal, life will throw many obstacles in your path. There will be times when your goal will seem so far away there is no way you can get there. You’ll look ahead and see nothing but headwinds and boulder-strewn roads and you’ll think there is no way on earth you can possibly reach that goal so far away.

a long twisty windy road to nowhere

If you aren't sure where you're going, how will you know when you get there?

If I’ve learned anything from riding my bike from one end of the world to the other, it’s that I can do anything. I can battle headwinds and bounce over those boulders and slowly make way toward my goal. If I kept my eye on Ushuaia – knew where I was headed – I could get there one step at a time. And if I could do it – you can do it too.

Know where you are headed. Define your destination. Decide what success will look like, then put one foot in front of the other until you get there. You can reach your goal – if you know what that goal is.

A friend made this post into a little video – take a look!

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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3 Responses to Define your destination so you know when you get there

  1. Jonathan R July 2, 2011 at 11:21 am #

    Very good point, also worth noting that you have to work hard at visualizing success because it’s so much easier to visualize failure; failure is just where you are now, only more so.

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  2. Bluegreen Kirk July 5, 2011 at 5:56 am #

    Excellent points you make! I would have to say that too many of us are easily swept away from our goals and destinations. The bigger problem is that most of us usually don’t know where it was we wanted to go in the first place.

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  3. Rev Hans Myors July 5, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    It’s always good to visualize a goal (end point) but don’t be so rigid with your route. If you are rigid, you will miss those bumps, twists, and turns that will take you to places that you’ve never been before. When at an intersection (junction), you might have that urge to turn right instead of going left that your path tells you to go. Sometimes, these side-trips might be more enjoyable than your route. I’ve learned this lesson many times.

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