If you don’t know where you’re going…

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. – Lewis Carroll

But this line is not in the Alice in Wonderland books. The proper exchange is :

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

What does that mean?
Well, the paraphrasing that is so often quoted is a pretty good summary the exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat. How can you pick a road to somewhere when you don’t know where you are going? How do you get “there” when you don’t know or don’t care where “there” is?

Why is direction important?
Or more specifically, having a direction. Where are you going? Until you can answer that question, you can’t say that any one route is better than another. Any road will get you to where you want to go.

Not having a direction, not having a goal, not knowing where you are going, it’s all the same. You go nowhere. You can never get “there,” can never arrive anywhere, because you don’t really have a destination. Without direction, without a destination, without a goal, how do you pick a direction, choose a road, or plot a course to get “there”?

Where can I apply this in my life?
What direction are you interested in taking your life? Pick an aspect of your life and apply the saying. If you don’t know where you’re going to dinner, any road will get you there. If you don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, any road will get you there. If you don’t know what you want in a friend, same thing.

I know it’s practically impossible to know everything before hand. But if you wait until you have all the information, life will pass you by in the mean time. Do some research, ask some questions, gain some practical experience, then make a decision, then act on it.

That’s the hard point for me. Deciding when to quit cutting bait and get fishing, as Grandpa used to say. When do you know when it’s time to quit researching and time to start the field work? That will vary depending on the person, and on the subject under consideration. That’s weasel words for “depends” – depends on you, mostly. Sorry.

What are the areas of your life where you seem to lack direction? Grab some paper and start a list. It could be anything – just write it down. Clothing style, hair (style, color, length, …), job or career, friends, purchases, sales, or whatever it may be.

I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up. I do software and engineering and any number of other things, but somehow, I think my future is in education of some sort. But without anything more specific, how can I possibly move forward? What road will take me to a destination that I can’t specify?

As usual, most of life’s difficulties come down to preparation. Too little or too much, or just sitting there with “analysis paralysis” the result is the same. You don’t get what you want, you don’t go where you had hoped to end up.

The first step is to get an idea of what you want to do. Select one of the areas you are lacking in direction. Brainstorm some possible directions. Write them down. Then consider each one and narrow the field down to just a few of the best and most appropriate possibilities.

If you’re wondering what to do for a vacation, you have a lot of possibilities. Start with the toughest limits, typically time and money. If you’re planning a weekend getaway, a trans-oceanic flight is probably not a good idea. If your budget is in the “what’s in the couch cushions” category, you’re probably staying fairly close to home.

Once you’ve got an idea of what the basic boundaries are, ask yourself what you really want to do. For the vacation, do you like to camp, ride, lounge in a spa, see plays, drive places, take pictures, ride roller-coasters, or whatever else might appeal to you.

Sweep through all the options you came up with, and compare them to the limits you have. If it’s a weekend and couch cushion change, you might want to drive to the nearest national park and hike for a while (hope you like hiking!). I think you get the picture.

Once you have a couple of really good candidates, finish your research and select one of the paths. At this point, it probably doesn’t matter which one exactly you choose. You can always write it off as a “learning experience” and try again. Even if the steps are small, you should strive to make progress, learn from the experience and revise your direction.

If you don’t have a direction, why have a rudder or a steering wheel. Without direction, you are adrift in the stream of life, subject to all the problems, and completely without recourse. If you have a direction, you can always change your mind and decide to portage around the rapids.

Where are you going? Answering the question is important. If the answer to the question is anywhere, you’re probably already there.

From: Twitter, @BrightQuote
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/lewiscarro165865.html
Photo (with minor edits by the author) by Symic


About philosiblog

I am a thinker, who is spending some time examining those short twitter quotes in greater detail on my blog.
This entry was posted in clarity, decision, direction, goals, motivation, vision and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to If you don’t know where you’re going…

  1. Pingback: If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable. | philosiblog

  2. Gabbie says:

    I love Philosoblog! I’ve picked up some great quotes to use in my times of decision. I am in high school, and I don’t exactly love everything that I do, so I have to decide to add some direction into my life. My main problem is that I don’t wanna make anyone angry at me or confused with me, which is why I have a difficult time getting out of something (Clubs, sports, etc..) that I have been sucked into. Believe me, I do love certain aspects of everything that I do, but I realized a good while ago that I can’t do everything and still have the interest and energy to do everything else as well. I’m now looking at my future, what I really want as a career, what I have a knack for… And I’m finding ways to get there. I’m even drawing my own little roads on a paper with destinations, it’s so cute :3
    Keep posting!
    Lots of love, The Elf

    • philosiblog says:

      Welcome to the beginning of the rest of your life. People will always want something from you, even if it’s just your company for a time. But, as you have already notices, your time and energy are not limitless. Decisions, and the consequences of those decisions, and the ripples that radiate from those consequences, that is what you will ponder for the rest of your life. Or you can just charge ahead, and let life steer you. You can imagine which path I would select for myself. Self examination isn’t always fun, but it can be useful. But like almost everything else, there is both too much and too little. Too much, and you agonize over every decision until every decision is agony. Too little, and you flit about like a butterfly, or a small child at a party. My best wishes to you, and hopefully you will enjoy the next post.

  3. Jet drew says:

    Hey there!Thank you …I love this quote and I really appreciate your explanation.

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  8. truelia says:

    I like the way you write. It’s very structured and inviting people to do what suggest us to do. Smart.

    • philosiblog says:

      My writing style is a product of my job and how I think. I’m very structured, which is a bit different from organized. Glad you are enjoying the blog. Thanks for the comment.

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