When you boil it down, all the activities that keep you busy every day lead to one destination—happiness. It doesn't take a scientist to figure out that none of us are chasing misery.
But what happens when you have too many options and keep choosing those that throw you off course?
For the last couple of years, my dog, Levi, and I have had a standing appointment with Mindy. She's a dog agility world champion and knows a thing or two about training champions. She's also very good at teaching us to negotiate a field of obstacles with success while running as fasts as we can.
When we begin to run a course, we set a goal to complete it as fast as we can with no mistakes. Follow the numbers from lowest to highest in the correct order, and everything will end well.
But, life gets in the way, even in dog agility.
Mindy is an expert at setting traps designed to distract and pull us off course. Since a dog can't read numbers, it's up to me to discriminate between the correct and the false path. The wrong choice will cause us to go off course and not reach our goal.
If you live an active, growth-oriented life, you will encounter distractions. Many placed in front of you by well-meaning people. They look like opportunities. In reality, they are obstacles that will cause you to veer off course—potentially for years.
If you take a job not aligned with your goals, you will go off course.
If you negotiate a deal on a new home that leaves you underwater, you are off course from the start.
If you enter into a relationship that doesn't match your values, it'll be like having no numbers to follow at all.
Setting well-defined goals is the first step in knowing the difference between opportunities and obstacles. It is a skill that will serve you well.
Everybody heads down the wrong path from time to time. It takes time to recover. The fewer times you do that, the faster you reach your goals.