Are you following your own direction, or are you more comfortable being told what to do?
About ten years ago, I was a sales rep for a publishing house. I drove around the state of Victoria, peddling my wares to all the bookshops in my little hatchback, my arms toned from carrying book samples around.
It was a simpler time. Smart phones hadn’t yet come into vogue, and I didn’t have a GPS in my car. This meant that I had to read a map to work out how to get somewhere. In time, I had a really good internal GPS, and knew how to get from A to B, including short cuts and back roads if I needed them, and roughly how long it would take me.
Fast forward to today, and even when I am visiting a friend whose house I have been to many times, I still get in my car and program my destination into Google maps.
I often berate myself for doing this, as I often know how to get to where I want to go. Many times, the way I would have gone is different to how Google maps takes me, and I feel annoyed that I followed a route that I wouldn’t have taken if I had just stopped for a moment and thought about where I was going, instead of lazily following instructions.
I feel like this is very similar to how we live our lives. We have stopped listening to our inner GPS—our intuition—in favour of wanting to be told what we should do.
I have even run goal-setting workshops where people have said afterwards ‘I thought you were going to tell me which goals to set’. Um, it doesn’t really work that way.
We often doubt ourselves and our decision-making. Other people seem to have it together, so we just follow what they do. But what works for someone else won’t necessarily work for us, so we can start to feel lost and/or disconnected. By all means use other people as inspiration or as a guide, but do it because it feels good to you, and go off-course or turn down a side street if it suits you.
To become better at listening to our inner GPS, we need to give ourself time each day to get quiet, to disconnect from it all.
Take some deep breaths, meditate, pause to consider something before answering automatically. Spend time with yourself, get comfortable with making your own decisions—start small, like what your body wants to eat and build up to the bigger stuff.
Tuning in and asking yourself what you want can be challenging at times, especially if you’re not used to it. Eventually you will develop trust in your inner GPS and wonder why you hadn’t followed it before.