Life is Like a Trip to the Lake

by

This weekend, driving back from an overnight trip at the Lake of the Ozarks where we celebrated my nephew’s 21st birthday, it dawned on me that this trip could be compared to a successful life.

Last weekend was my mom’s 90th birthday and we had a party to celebrate. She and my nephew share the date, and he was generous enough to forgo the celebration of his 21st birthday to focus on his grandmother. Giving is essential to one’s success.

I must admit, I gave thought to ducking this weekend trip, but setting goals is essential to one’s success, and having fun is among my goals.

The weather forecast was for ice and snow and was to reach the area just in time for our trip home. Depending upon the station or website you gathered information from, the storm was to hit as early as 8:00 a.m. In ideal weather, our road trip would take three hours. To avoid the predicted winter precipitation would mean leaving at 5:00 a.m. Sunday morning. This didn’t sound like the weekend trip of my dreams. Driving in the snow wouldn’t bother me, but ice was another story. The roads to and from the lake house where everyone was to gather included curves, twists and turns. On ice, they would be even more treacherous.

While driving to the Lake, facing an uncertain weather forecast wasn’t going to be a life-changing event, I took the risk and made the trip. Taking risk is essential to one’s success. “I am not where I am because of luck. I am where I am because I took risks others weren’t willing to take. The world rewards the risk takers. It always has. It always will.” ― Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing.

There were a million things I could have (should have?) accomplished this weekend, but spending time away from work and with family seemed significantly more crucial…and downright more fun. “The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people, with balance in their lives, who have learned to work in an extraordinary manner.” ― Gordon B. HinckleyBalance is essential to one’s success.

A plan is also essential to one’s success. Goals and intentions… flexible in how to get there, but non-negotiable in achievement. These conditions are vital! We got up – not at 5:00 – got dressed and ready to hit the road before the ice storm was to arrive.

A successful life is parallel to this weekend, and became profoundly so when compared to our journey down the highway headed home. Much of the rainy drive time was spent in a pack sharing the road with several cars. If I passed them, I found myself ahead of those same cars, but behind another group. Often I was alone on the highway with no other cars in sight. Once, while in the passing lane applying gas to overtake a semi, the engine was revving but I was going absolutely nowhere. (My 90 year old mother, who was in the passenger seat, had knocked the gear shift into neutral when she bent over to pick up her glasses she had dropped to the floor.)

When you look at the other cars as your life and goals, and compare accelerating to your actions, it is easy to comprehend the similarities. You start out in the parking lot, or your driveway at an idle – the time when you write your goals and everything appears to be typical. That is one’s comfort zone. Driving along with other cars occurs when you have obtained one set of goals, before you are ready or have determined new ambitions. You drive along with the group, and that becomes your new comfort zone. New desires are established. You accelerate and get ahead of those cars, but there is another group, or new goals, that you’ve set your sights on and are moving toward. Sometimes, even though you have left one group – your new comfort zone – if your goals are big enough, they might not be within your sight, though you grasp they are attainable – out in front of you. There will also be times that you feel as if you are pressing the throttle to the floor yet don’t feel as if you’re going anywhere. Don’t give up and before you know it, you’ll be back in DRIVE and moving along with momentum.

While driving back from the Lake, facing an uncertain weather forecast certainly wasn’t life-changing, I was grateful that the ice was delayed. I was grateful my nephew was bighearted and I had set goals, taken a risk, committed to balance in my life and made a plan. Overall, I was thankful for the trip – both symbolic and real. “If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness. It will change your life mightily.” Gerald Good Gratitude is essential to one’s success.