To go with the flow. What does this mean to you? Humor me please, as I attempt to explain my take on it. I’m going to go with the flow of this and see where my mind takes me this morning.

I woke up with the desire to explore the concept of how we know whether or not we’re on the right path in life. (Not unlike my character, Sarah, from Beneath Everything! Now, if I could only hop a plane and land in Bonaire to discover the answer like she did!)

Life happens

I’ve had so many situations where I’ve landed on the wrong path and wasted a lot of time trying to stay there to make it work. Often times I found that my stubbornness and ego were the things that kept me in places I didn’t have any business in being. The idea that as long as I worked hard enough to make the path open up actually worked opposite and blocked me.

In these relentless instances, I stopped the flow and found myself standing in a muck of still water. In all my stubbornness to pursue my desires regardless of the landscape, I created an unnecessary resistance that blocked me. I forgot to go with the flow

I think many of us have found ourselves in that situation where, because we have put so much effort into something to get it off the ground, we don’t want to turn away from our efforts and try a new way to get through a block. To some, doing so might feel an awful lot like failure. But, I argue that to stay and force something that keeps us away from flow could be a far worse failure.

So how does one know when to say goodbye to one path and get on a new one, and ultimately learn to go with the flow?

To go with the flow

I’ve learned that when something is forced, for me, it’s time to seek a new path. I’ve found myself in this position many times in life. Often, all I ever had to do was look to the right or left to find an escape off the beaten path and onto an open one overflowing with new possibilities. I’d rather choose to go with the flow. 

To walk away from a blocked path requires one to be flexible and willing to bend. It also requires that you have your eye on an intended desire so you will know when you’re connecting and when you’re not.

Knowing your desire is critical to knowing whether you’re on the right path or not. The desire is the ‘what’ and the path is the ‘how’. When traveling along life’s roads, I focus solely on the ‘what’ and leave the ‘how’ alone.

Many of us get caught up in the ‘how’, and when we focus too intently on it. We forget about our ‘what’. When we stop focusing on what we want, we abandon our dreams.

Keeping my focus on my ‘what’, I’ve learned to not fear taking the new path. There are many ways to get to a desired goal, and so I’ve learned to remain open to finding the paths that offer open flow. Here’s the thing, I want to enjoy this experience, this journey, and if I’m in a constant state of trudging and fighting my way through the brambles and dams, I miss out on the bliss of traveling on an alternate path that may offer many more beautiful and insightful lessons.

How to go with the flow

So again, I believe the secret to enjoying the journey and to go with the flow is to focus on the ‘what’ and not the ‘how’.

Let’s take water for instance. Water knows what it wants – freedom to flow. It doesn’t worry about how it will find flow, it just knows it wants it. If something blocks it, it doesn’t force itself. It simply finds a new way. Just because a cement structure stands in the way, doesn’t mean the end of the road for its goal to flow. No. It just means it must find a new untamed road that is brimming with potentials.

Now don’t get me wrong. Not everything pursued is going to be easy and free-flowing without some effort. Often our biggest desires require us to work hard and put in the time. There is a difference between hard work and forcing the issue. You can work hard and still be in flow.

Are you set up to go with the flow?

Achieving a goal can be hard work. But if it’s work that is allowing you to spread your wings, grow and continue cultivating new meanings and insights, then it’s worth it. If it’s hard work that buries you into an abyss, then perhaps it’s time to seek a more open road.

Many years ago, my goal was to land a good job so I could live a life that was enjoyable and fulfilling. That was my ‘what’, and quite frankly, still is. I envision a life that is well-lived, and full of learning opportunities and adventures.

For a long time, I allowed myself to get stuck on a path as I worked towards this goal. Life tossed me onto path A, and I worked that path until I bled disappointment and frustration, digging my way through wall after wall of dead-ends only to find myself staring at a huge boulder that allowed for no more digging.

I believed the way to get to my ‘what’ goal was to chisel my way through this boulder, forcing that path to open. When I eventually got stuck in front of this boulder, though, I realized the tools in my kit weren’t going to get me through it.

In a moment of despair, I fell to my knees. Begrudged by the very idea that I lacked the resources to get past this enormous obstacle, I began to accept that I’d either have to root myself in front of the mountain and give up my desire or turn around and try some other road. The risk was great. I’d spent a lot of time chiseling at this boulder. I didn’t want all those efforts to be wasted. So, were they? Were they only wasted if I allowed my dreams to die? You better believe it!

By some grace, I felt the nudge to glance around and find another way. My ‘what’ was too powerful a calling to not find a new path. There to the far right, I saw the sun peeking its rays through a crevice. I looked around further and began to see even more of these crevices. Soon, the darkness that stood before me and threatened to block out my dreams, couldn’t stand up to the power of those rays finding their way through the false strength of that boulder.

Where there is will there is a way

For where there is a will, there is most certainly a way. I had choices, and that offered me renewed strength. I followed the brightest sunray, and began to feel the calling of my ‘what’ again. Powered by a new hope, I began to chisel away at this crevice, and to my delight, it crumbled like dust at my feet and allowed me to step through the darkness and onto a path sprinkled in sunshine, greenery and life.

Looking back on my travels to date, this path twisted and turned, oftentimes leading me to places far off my intended trajectory. This path has always provided answers and lessons that serve as catalysts to my relentless pursuit of my ‘what’.

All along, all I had to do was scan the landscape to get into flow with my desires. Once I did, life began to offer me many avenues to experience the joy of the journey. Have I reached my ‘what’ yet?

Well, a funny thing happens once you shift your mind to get into flow. You begin to stop the pursuit, and enjoy the ride. No longer is the destination as important as the experiences you’ll meet up with along the way. I find myself seeking new paths just to stay on the traveling side of life, where surprises reveal themselves in the most mysterious and profound ways.

I’d rather let life continue to surprise me with its powerful currents than find myself stagnant in a pond of still water any day.

Over to you now. Are you set up to go with the flow? If so, what’s been your experience? If not, what step can you take right now to get you there?