On a Road Trip
When I was a kid growing up in Brazil, my family used to take every opportunity to hop in the car and go visit new places. My father was a master road trip planner and he would take care of every detail including of course the dreadful early (very early) start. I can’t tell you how many beautiful, tropical sunrises I saw through the window of our family SUV.
As a kid, I barely knew where we were going, and I don’t recall ever asking the “are we there yet” question. I used to love the ride, the different scenery and to feel the wind blowing on my face.
Now as an adult, I still love packing my stuff and heading to a new destination and driving for miles away. The big difference is that now I am the one on the driver’s seat making the decisions and the preparations for the trip. Both responsibility and opportunity come with this new role. And I love it! Now I get to go where I want, when I want, stop whenever I feel like it and design the trip I want to take. Yes, it is quite a bit more work than napping on the back seat of the car, but it is my time now and I wouldn’t change it for a second.
Road trips are excellent metaphors for life in general! As we journey through this world, our lives move from one destination to another with several different pit stops, missing turns, bumps on the road, beautiful landscapes, great company and sometimes even car issues. The question is: on our personal life “road trip”, where in the car are we going for the ride?
Kids are usually the ones riding on the back seat. They never take charge of the wheel and they take very little responsibility for the trip, if any. Most of the time they don’t even know where they are and have very little control over the place where they are going. But, it is an easy ride and if anything goes wrong, it is certainly not their fault. On the other hand, they never get to go on a trip of their own and live their own true personal adventure.
If you are sitting on the back seat of your life, you feel like you have no power and no personal direction. Yet another day goes by and your dreams and purpose begin to turn into wishful thinking. Maybe one day, if you get lucky, life will take you to where you really want to be. The convenience of this position is that if anything goes wrong and life takes an unexpected turn, it is easy to pass the blame to somebody else. You are not in charge so therefore it can’t be any of your fault, correct? Meanwhile, life is passing by — sometimes complacent, sometimes fun, most of the time aimless.
If you are on the passenger seat you have a closer look of the road and direct contact with the driver. You may be able to give suggestions about the ride, but ultimately it is the driver who makes the final decisions. It may be that you don’t know how to drive or perhaps you don’t have the courage to do it. In any case, someone else is in charge and you are following his lead.
Sitting on the passenger seat of your life road trip means you are living a life that somebody else has designed for you — not your own. You are only the co-pilot and your personal goals are secondary or even forgotten. Your life is focused on what someone else wants for you or taught you to be. Not based on your own inner values.
The driver is in full control of the car. He maneuvers it to the direction that he wants to go and makes the decisions to stop, go faster, take a short cut or simply cruise along. The driver must be focused and he responds and adjusts the car to the conditions of the road, its layout and the unexpected bumps and potholes. Most importantly, this is his ride and he takes the car to the destination of his choice.
When you take the role of the driver in your life, you are the one in charge. You are the one that sets your goals and chooses your way. It is you who make your own choices and you design your life trip based on your own true purpose. If something goes wrong, you don’t blame somebody else. Instead, you learn, you correct it, you adjust and especially, you keep moving. To be in this position you must be willing and able to take responsibility and be ready to make decisions. Best of all, you know that the trip is truly yours and only for you to take.
Where are you on the road trip of your life? Are you letting life just pass you by? Are you letting other people take the lead and steer you in the direction that they want you to go? Or are you ready to take charge, set your own goals and design your own true journey? As a coach, I work with individuals who are ready to sit on the driver’s seat and take the steps to move their lives guided by their own true purpose. They may not know exactly how to do it and how to create this road trip for themselves. They may have lots of doubts and hurdles to overcome. But somehow inside of them, they know they must and that it is possible. They are also not afraid to ask for help, support, inspiration and accountability. And that is why they come to work with a coach. They know that the trip is going to be much more enjoyable, successful and effective when they bring along someone who knows how to bring the best out of who they are.
Are you ready to take the trip of your life? Let’s start packing now!
Elias Scultori is a personal and professional coach supporting individuals who are ready to make positive choices out of ordinary and even difficult situations. He conducts both individual and group sessions over the phone and in person, and customizes each coaching plan to meet his client’s needs.