"Don't look straight ahead," he revealed. "Look up through the treeline at the starlit sky. Use the treelines as borders to create a pathway in the sky. As you navigate along this pathway above, you can ignore the darkness in front of you and stay safely on course."
Similarly, our lives can be navigated with the same approach. The darkness we need to navigate through is the thoughtless pattern of working, eating, watching television and sleeping. Our pathway in the sky is the dreams we chase. By looking to our dreams for navigation, we too, can skim through the darkness full speed ahead.
Two photos hang in my office as reminders of the power of navigating by dreams. The first is a vacation shot, taken in 1991 in front of the Grand Tetons, a spectacular mountain range in western Wyoming. It's your typical vacation photo - Dad standing alongside the rented motorhome and the kids hanging out the window - Mom nowhere in sight because she's the one taking the picture.13,000 foot, snowcapped peaks fill the background. I remember bathing in the grandeur, turning to my wife, and asking the obvious question, "Why don't we live here?"
She just smiled, her wordless answer saying, "Yes that would be grand, but what about the career? Our income? The house?"
At that time, I was still a corporate manager in Florida, about to mark my tenth year with the same company. As such, I was tied to a certain place, position, salary and company. Saying yes to that corporate career was the same as saying no to all my other dreams.
I'd wanted to be a writer since the sixth grade. Not just any writer - I wanted to become the kind of writer who worked for himself from home. I could feel it was my destiny, I just never got around to bringing it about. A part-time job with McDonalds as a teen soon turned into running the joint as the manager, and then onto the next company in a larger role and before you knew it, two decades had passed. Despite the outward success, I was trapped in Florida and trapped in a career less than my dreams.
My wife and I sighed, took one last look at the mountain vista, climbed back into the RV and headed for Florida.
But the dream was planted. And it powered me in a way that still sends shivers up my back. I gave notice to that company just three months after returning and started a new career as a writer at a small newspaper. I soon learned the trade well enough to start and run my own newspaper for three years. As confidence grew, so did the size of my checks from selling freelance articles to other publications on the side. And then wonder of wonders, I one day found myself with enough regular freelance writing assignments that I was no longer tied to any one location.
The second photo on my wall is another typical vacation shot. This one taken five years later at the exact location as the 1991 picture. This one has Dad alongside the family car, kids hanging out the window, 13,000 foot snowcapped peaks in the background, and Mom still invisible as photographer. The kids have grown, Dad looks a bit older, and the vehicles are different, but other than that, the photos are nearly identical - with one important distinction. This isn't a vacation shot. Now we LIVE here.
Five years of navigating life by that dream powered the hundreds of events that then fell into place to make it so. The dream replaced my career with my destiny, my corporate salary with my writer's income and eliminated dozens of restrictions while bestowing hundreds of new freedoms.
Looking back, I'm embarrassed to say it took 25 years to realize the obvious. I'd gotten so caught up in earning a living that I'd never gotten around to designing a life.
Until I began navigating life by that dream.
UPDATE: The writing dream has expanded to include entrepreneurial dreams. I no longer write for others because I'm so busy writing for our own businesses.
Mike Johnson is an energetic writer & entrepreneur. Learn more about Mike's offerings at www.MikeJohnson.biz