The key to navigating your life

​You loved each other. At least in the beginning.

Years have passed. Your lives have changed. You neglected each other. You grew apart. You didn’t communicate. You argued. You fought. Now, you barely recognise one another.

The work used to be fulfilling. Now it’s painful. Getting out of bed in the morning fills you with dread. You don’t notice your breakfast slipping down your throat. You’re preoccupied. You don’t remember the commute because you spent it wishing you could be anywhere else in the world. Doing anything but the job you’ve come to despise.

You used to be energetic. You used to fizzle with enthusiasm. Boundless curiosity was the rule, your standard operating procedure. Now, it’s a long extinct feeling. Nothing interests you. Nothing fascinates you. Little things annoy you. Big things don’t matter anymore. The world is grey. Dull.

What happened? 

This wasn’t what you planned. You didn’t want your relationships to crumble. You had higher ambitions than the job you now hate. You didn’t want to be the person who is immune to the wonders of the world.

What happened?

Let’s say you want to walk somewhere you’ve never been before. Before you set off, you plan the journey. You learn about where you have to go, the landmarks you’ll pass, the possible routes available to you. And then you set off.

As you’re walking, you look down at your directions, ensuring that where you currently are matches up with where you should be. Do this for the whole journey and you end up where you intended to be.

Those moments where you look at your surroundings and look at where you should be on your map to ensure they correlate, is reflection. It’s ceasing your action momentarily to check where you’re supposed to be.

It’s the cycle of life. It’s how we learn. It’s how we grow. Action. Reflection. Action. Reflection. Action. Reflection.

Action allows us to move forward. Reflection allows us to mine our previous actions for insight and understanding, plot our future steps and recognise the adjustments we need to make.

Reflection without action is not a life. It’s sterile. Inhuman somehow.

Action without reflection is how we go off course. It’s how we end up doing what we never wanted to do, becoming the person we never wanted to be. Action without reflection is like planning our walk and then placing a blindfold over our eyes, hoping that through trial and error we can bumble to our destination.

We cannot. Without reflection we never make it. If we don’t give ourselves the time and space to pause, to ask, “is this where I want to be?”, “am I going in the right direction?”, “do I need to adjust or change my course?”, we get lost.

Rather than putting your head down and charging straight ahead, pause. Stop. Look up. Survey your surroundings. Are you on the right path? Have you taken a wrong turn? Where do you go from here?

Answer these questions and then begin again.

Action, reflection. Action, reflection.