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roads and sign posts

The holiday season in Buenos Aires is beautiful. In this city, most businesses close for Christmas and New Year’s. To satiate my need for morning coffee, I decided I’d head to a hotel in my neighborhood knowing the restaurant would be open for hotel guests. I’m relatively familiar with the area so I checked my google maps instructions then put my phone away and headed out.

It should have only been two turns but somehow, I managed to miss one of them and ended up well off my target. I was in no hurry and the morning was warm and slightly overcast making it very comfortable for walking. I knew, in general, where I was from landmarks I’d visited on my last trip. I hadn’t yet hit my goal but I was enjoying the exercise. Coffee could wait a bit longer.

Later, I would discover, that my google maps arrow wasn’t locked into ‘North’ setting as I usually have it so as I wandered by lovely parks and down streets emptied and quieted by the holiday, I was unknowingly wandering in circles. Each time I consulted my map and made a correction, I ended up going the wrong way. Thirty-five minutes into what should have been a 15-minute walk, I looked up and noticed people sitting in an outdoor patio. It wasn’t the restaurant I’d set as my destination, but it was a good restaurant so I ended my wandering with an excellent caramel macchiato and creamy scrambled eggs.

What does this have to do with setting goals for the New Year?

  1. Be flexible. Goals help us decide a direction and take action but if we maintain a narrow focus looking only for the goal, we may miss other opportunities. Don’t be attached to achieving a particular goal, be curious about where the path leads and be willing to change course.
  2. Enjoy the process. Had I been fixated on my goal of getting to the hotel restaurant, I would have found the experience to be quite stressful and frustrating. Instead, I took in the scenery, enjoyed exploring the different twists and turns my path took, and I discovered a great new breakfast spot!
  3. Trust yourself. It’s taken a lot for me to learn to let go and become more okay with not being in control. I’m still working on it in some areas of my life. But if I look back, I can see that no matter what challenges came up for me – whether I was 7 or 10 or a grown adult, I was able to find a way through them. I trusted that even though my excursion wasn’t going as planned, I would find my way.

Is a wrong turn really wrong? Or is it an opportunity to see something new, to have an unexpected experience, and to grow your confidence and trust in yourself that you can navigate life’s unexpected moments? On my way home, with a takeaway macchiato in hand, I took yet another accidental detour…and discovered a beautiful mound of green with a fountain set in the center like a gemstone from nature – polished and pretty.

So, go ahead and set your goals, but stay open to the wonderful surprises and discoveries that may come your way if you use your goals as signposts to guide you instead of a finish line you absolutely must cross no matter what it may be costing you.

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