Last month I traveled to Nashville with some fellow wellness coaches for a training meeting. We had a day to ourselves before our meeting began, so we set out to explore and find food. With no real knowledge of the city and a determination to find a healthy brunch in the midst of this biscuit and bar-b-que haven, we turned to our phones for a quick Internet search. And off we went.
We walked a few blocks, joking that none of us are great at following directions. It wasn’t long before we were off of our path. It wasn’t a problem though. We just re-centered ourselves on the map we were following and carried on. We walked and wandered, playing Goldilocks to Nashville’s three bears of breakfast options: too crowded, too greasy, too fancy. And each time we got turned around, we laughed and called out that phrase known by anyone who has relied on a GPS navigation system and gotten lost: “recalibrate!”
About the fourth time we recalibrated, about three miles into our sojourn for a breakfast that had turned into brunch, it clicked with me: recalibrating was an essential part of any health journey, and something that happens in different ways throughout our lives.
We all get lost along the path to a new and improved us, whatever that may be. Sometimes it is because of a deliberate pit stop, like deciding to let go of the healthy eating reins during a vacation. Other times the diversion is out of our control, like a health issue. Often, our wandering is because of something that we could have planned for but didn’t, like transitioning into a new schedule or lack of knowledge about how to take the next steps. It doesn’t always matter what the reason is, as long as we remember that our internal GPS is always there, ready to patiently announce, “recalibrating.”
But in order for recalibration to be helpful, there are a few elements that need to be working together.
A Destination. Your GPS knows you are off track because it knows where you are trying to go. Without a firm destination in mind, it’s useless. Our internal sense of direction is the same way. With a general goal of, “get healthy,” we’re doomed to wander around aimlessly, lost forever. Once we decide on a destination – it doesn’t have to be forever, just the first leg of the journey – it’s a lot more helpful. Decide where you want to end up before you start traveling.
A Connection. If we set our GPS to a destination and then ignore the navigation directions, never looking at the map for context of our whereabouts, not responding to nudges to take the next available u-turn, well, our GPS would be useless again. The relationship between traveler and navigator is a fluid one. We choose the destination, the best route is advised, and then it is up to us to take the lead and begin. The map only recalibrates once we start moving. Likewise, we need to be connected to our internal GPS, checking in periodically with ourselves to make sure we are still moving towards the destination we chose.
A Desire to Arrive. My friends and I could have wandered all over and discovered plenty in Nashville that day, but we were driven by our hungry stomachs to stay focused on our goal of food. We entered our coordinates with a purpose, and reaching health goals requires the same kind of commitment to a purpose and desire to arrive. Achieving goals absolutely has room for wandering, but the happiest travelers make efficient use of their resources and are excited to arrive at their destination.
In case you’re wondering, yes, we did find our destination: a little shack on the outskirts of downtown called the Blue Sky Café. It was delicious, and it was healthy! As we sat in the grass and ate our breakfast turned brunch turned lunch, we realized we had walked four miles in search of it. We had definitely not taken the most direct route, but the journey had been more fun because of it. We briefly considered catching an Uber back to the hotel, but decided we’d rather walk. After all, it would be a shorter walk back: the more we learned our way around, the less we needed to recalibrate.