Authored by Mara Hodler
About 13 years ago, my husband, Sam, and I had to make a trip from Calgary, Alberta, to the not-so-beckoning town of Winnipeg, Manitoba. We loaded up our old truck for the move and headed off. We had planned for this move pretty well. Everything was neatly packed and sorted. We had mapped our route and estimated our time. We had prepared financially for the move and made a budget for the amount of money we would need for gas, food, hotels, and all that. It was our first long trip with a baby, so we had made sure we had everything we needed for the journey. Our intention was most definitely to end up in Winnipeg.
On the morning of our departure, we got up early and hit the road on time. Only one problem: we didn’t head east as we were supposed to. We got on the highway and out of habit began heading west. The thing that alerted us to our error was the signs we began seeing: Banff and Alberta. We knew these were in the opposite direction of where we were trying to go. As soon as we recognized our mistake, we took the first U-turn and began traveling in the right direction. We arrived in Winnipeg only slightly delayed.
The point I want to make with this story is not that Sam and I are directionally challenged. It’s this: the road you’re on, not your intentions, determines where you will end up. We had absolutely no intention of going to Banff and every intention of going to Winnipeg; however, if we would have continued going west, we would have ended up in Banff despite all our planning/wanting/intending to go to Winnipeg.
Let me give you some examples of how this principle can play out in our lives:
You want to be fit and healthy so you get your hands on some great workout DVDs or join a gym. Maybe you even go shopping for some cool workout gear and tennis shoes. You Google “skinny” versions of your favorite recipes so that your diet can support your new endeavor. But every day when it’s time to work out, you make some excuse to get out of it. And every evening you find yourself on the couch with a dish of ice cream, a bag of chips, or some other sabotaging snack. Your intentions were to get fit, but your actions did not support those intentions.
Or you plan to get a good education, maybe earn a scholarship for college and build an exciting career … but every chance you get, you’re playing video games. You are getting very good at maneuvering your aircraft, or building your town, but your grades aren’t looking too impressive. “Why, oh why?” you wonder! After all, you really did want to get to college. It just doesn’t seem to be happening.
Perhaps you like the idea of building an investment portfolio and plan to be wealthy one day. You know if you save for a few years, you will be able to invest your money in something that will make you more money. But you go shopping, eat out, and spend money on entertainment at every chance you get. You planned on saving, but you have nothing to show for those plans.
You want to have a good relationship with your parents, friends, and sibs, but you are consistently moody, volatile, and rude. And the friendships are just not … blossoming.
Your intentions were never to be fat and out of shape, or undereducated, poor, or friendless, but the road you are on trumps hope, intentions, dreams, and good will.
Imagine the difference in results if you pushed yourself to work out and eat right. Within a few months you would see that you are on your way to reaching your goals. The same goes with your studying—if you followed your plan and applied yourself, you would achieve your goal of earning a degree and building the career you wanted. If you actually followed your savings plan, you would certainly see the funds build up and be ready when a good investment comes your way. If you were friendlier, you would have more friends.
But at the end of the day, actions are going to top intentions every single time. Your life will be the sum total of your actions, not your intentions, dreams, or wishes.
The lesson is a simple one: pay less attention to intentions. Instead, look at the road you are on. If Sam and I hadn’t paid attention to the signs along the highway, we would have continued on our merry way to Banff, all the while still thinking we were going to end up in Winnipeg because that was our intention. The signs along the way can tell you a whole lot about the direction you are going.
And no matter how far you’ve gone on any road, it is never too late to stop and turn around. It’s far better than ending up somewhere you didn’t want to be, don’t you think?
If you want to make it to a different place, get on a different road. Make the link between your choices and the results in your life. Evaluate and adjust your course accordingly. It’s something we all have to do. God has given us the ability to choose, to navigate, and to determine the roads we travel.
Most of us don’t get lost or get on the wrong road on purpose. Rather, we don’t recognize the choices we make every day as choices that get us closer to our destination or take us farther from it. Once that connection is made, it’s easier to adjust the course we’re on to one that will take us to where we want to be.
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2015 by The Family International