Two families dream and save for the trip of a lifetime. They both want to go spend time by the ocean, enjoying the beach and warm weather. They plan to stay in a 5-star resort hotel and see the sights, go dancing, have exotic dinners and snag a few souvenirs. Both families leave the same day.
Family Number 1
This family plans to drive to their destination. On the way, they see interesting sites, and stop to linger. They grab a quick lunch soaking up the people, and the ambiance. At sunset, they realize they stayed longer than they intended. Trying to keep to their budget, they eat fast food for dinner and then begin searching for an inexpensive hotel. The next day they hit the road bright and early. A hundred miles down the road they see a carnival. The kids are bored and they want to stop and check it out. They’re on vacation, they reason. Why not?
Before they know it, they’ve spent the whole day there, eating pricey food and playing games and buying cheap souvenirs. Because they’re tired, they stop at another hotel. But the next morning, they’ve recommitted to their plan.
They travel several hundred miles, but they’re not at their destination. They spend another night in a cheap roadside hotel. This puts a significant dent in their budget because they didn’t save money as much as talk about this trip.
They continue to be distracted by sights along the road until they’ve wiped out their “once in a lifetime trip” budget. While they still have money to get home, they turn around, disappointed, and head that way. They never reach their dream destination.
Family Number 2
The second family leaves for their dream trip. The first day, they only stop for gas and restroom breaks. The kids want to buy convenience food, but the parents remind them they’ve packed a cooler with food for the trip. They’ve saved a long time so they could be served meals in a fancy resort.
The first day, they see lots of interesting sites where they could have stopped, but they don’t. The parents offer car games for the kids. The driver of the car reminds them that they need to stay focused on the goal, the fun promised at their dream destination. The sooner they get there, the sooner they can begin making those great memories.
Even though they do a lot of traveling the first few days, they finally reach the ocean. The hotel is even more beautiful than the photos revealed. Their gorgeous room overlooks the sea and has a patio where they can have their breakfasts, coffee and relax. They walk the beach, play in the ocean and collect shells. They are served meals on the patio with a beautiful view. The resort has activities for the children and they play until they’re exhausted. They get a few souvenirs and t-shirts and lounge by the pool. After 10 days together, rested, refocused, and refreshed, they head home.
You could argue that both families will remember their trip for the rest of their lives. And that’s true, but for very different reasons. It’s okay to have a few detours in life, we all have them. If the detours derail your original plan you will not reach your goal. Without a plan of any kind, you won’t even know if you reached your goal. You may get to the end of your life, not really having gone in the direction you intended, letting life happen to you instead of grabbing the wheel and steering it toward places where you wanted to be.
What does this mean for you?
The people around us are not responsible for us reaching our destinies. They don’t know how much we need to save, what skills we need to learn, what helps us develop character, or increases our wisdom. That’s our job.
The distractions along the highway of life will always be there, looking for an audience. Some may make a quick stop, some visit too long and others will stay. Unavoidable distractions don’t have to pull us off our path. Maintaining focus and reaching our goals isn’t easy. If it was, everyone would do it.
Everything we do, every choice we make, requires a sacrifice. The first family stopped willy-nilly along their route, giving in to the pressures or pleasures of the moment. They talked about the trip more than saved for it. They didn’t sacrifice enough to save more money and they didn’t have a contingency plan. Because they chose to stop and spend before reaching their destinations, they sacrificed their original goal.
The second family planned ahead. They had games and meals in the car which saved them time and money. But they sacrificed the roadside attractions along the way. They kept their focus and achieved their goal. Because they sacrificed early, they were able to reward themselves with an exotic hotel stay, and expensive meals and truly enjoy their once in a lifetime experience.
It’s never too late to start setting goals and making sacrifices to meet them. If you aren’t living the life you’ve always dreamed of, maybe it’s because you haven’t really dreamed of a life you want to live.
If you could do anything, live anywhere what would it be? What is something you may have wanted to do all of your life? What can you start doing today to make it a reality? Please comment, I’d love to hear from you!