The roads and highways of Seattle, Washington are some of the most bizarre road construction feats I have ever experienced. They are often the background of my nightmares because of their Seussically-illogical build. In fact, there is one highway that, while being built, the city grew up around it faster than the road was being completed so now, there is an “exit” on that highway that, if you were to take it, you would be ejected mid-air into nothingness. That exit’s original destination became occupied by a large building and the exit could never be completed, so they just barricaded it off and called it good enough, aborting their design, and leaving a gaping hole in the system. When I asked about this curious and dangerous predicament, I was told that the city planners and the highway planners had not been clear about the road’s destination. Thus, a building had been built where a road was supposed to be.
Over the years, I have discovered that there are several other highways in the Seattle area that have “ghost ramps” – there is actually a name for these roads that go nowhere. These unusable roads that have never been completed occur because a road starts being built, following a plan with an unclear destination or before there is a consensus on the destination, before everyone is on board with the road’s path. In the case of most of the ghost ramps in the area, they have been aborted because of the second reason – the destination was set, but the path was not chosen. When the resistance comes out about that destination or the location of the path and the uproar begins, the road just gets left hanging and never reaches its destination.
This concept of being clear on the destination and having a clear blueprint for the journey on getting there has been on my mind a lot recently, as I go about building a freelance business and striving to accomplish several goals. I realized the other day that I had delineated my dreams, writing them down as part of a way to solidify them, and I had even gone so far as tentatively visualizing how I wanted to experience the path, but I hadn’t mapped out a route.
What I discovered is that I had been running a program that had an outline of: Well, my thoughts create my reality, so my thoughts created THIS reality without me “doing” anything. That means my thoughts can create a new and improved reality without me “doing” anything.
What I wasn’t seeing is the fact that in my life, prior to this point, there has been a whole heckuvalotta “doing,” but it has been unconscious and unproductive because there was no map for me to follow. I have built all kinds of ghost ramps and have aborted the project because I wasn’t even aware that a road was being built. If I woke up to the fact that I was on some road going somewhere, I would often exit the road because my desire to get to some vague destination was not enough to draw me through the ups, downs, and chuckholes that were littering my street.
Like with successful vacations, success in life and business requires planning. It requires a starting point and a destination – even if the destination is “I’m going to see what the road brings me,” that is a conscious choice of a destination. Those kinds of journeys can create for adventurous vacations where a lot of new sights are seen and experiences are had. And, while that sort of journey seems to lack a defined destination, it is the journey itself – it is to see new sights and experience new things – that is the destination.
While the definition of success is different for each individual, we can probably all agree that success looks like arriving where we want to arrive and the attitude with which we journey to get there. I was recently reminded by my mentor that the most easeful way of arriving in style at my destination is to know where I am starting, where I am going, and how I’m going to get there. It requires action because, although it is quite delicious to visualize eating Ivar’s clam chowder on the Seattle waterfront, it is much more fun to be at Ivar’s eating clam chowder as the sounds from the marina fill the Seattle night air. That only happens when the GPS has been set, the map has been drawn out, and the road has been driven to get me there.
© Angie K. Millgate 9/7/13
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