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Lost in the woods

Lost in the woods

Do you remember the last time that you were lost, I mean really and truly lost? Lost like a five year old in the crowded clothing section of a department store… knowing that your mom or dad was somewhere but all you could see were coats, shirts, pants, everything but the safety of your parents?

I had the great fortune to be alone in the woods this past weekend in SE Georgia. While moving point to point in the woodlands, I had the chance to move off the defined trails and took a turn at bush whacking. As I walked through the dense woods, I was reminded of the old saying about “seeing the forest for the trees” but from my perspective my immediate world was nothing but trees. There was no forest to view from a safe vantage point or any path from which to easily escape my position. I was in a sense cut off and surrounded by trees or if we use the “forest for the trees” analogy, I was cut off and surrounded by too many facts, details, data or what have you.

Many of the people that I work with are often confused or overwhelmed by too many facts, details, data, choices, etc. when they are planning a dramatic change in their life. This kind of sense of being overwhelmed is the classic paralysis by analysis situation. They often ask themselves, “which set of facts or choices will lead me to where I want to go? “

The secret in this situation is to move, simply move in any direction. If they know they should head forward or to the right or left, so much the better but you have to move. Like bush whacking through the dense forest, in life sometimes they have to move a bit to the right and a bit to the left as they move forward. With each step, they get closer to a defined path, trail or a milestone goal.

As I said, picking my way from tree-to-tree, bush-to-bush brought me out of all the confusion of the dense forest eventually leading back to the trail that I wanted. I ended up at a different point on the trail than where I wanted but once I hit my goal of reaching the trail I quickly started moving toward the camp and the lunch that I knew was waiting for me.

Follow these steps if you are looking to make changes in your life or simply want to avoid the paralysis of analysis:

  • Define where you want to go or what change you want to make
  • Gather as much good data as you can
  • Build an action plan – this doesn’t have to be a perfect action plan and it might just be a short term plan to get you moving to your next milestone
  • Analyze where you are and adjust course if necessary
  • Take action again toward the next milestone or goal

If you follow these steps, you will develop an action plan that will allow you to build momentum and eventually make the changes you want to make.

1 comment

  • Shirley says:

    Nice analogy

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