Many of us have had the experience of getting into our car in a morning rush, turning on Waze or a similar navigation app, and entering our destination, only to find that it is not going to take us down the typical route. Instead, the app takes us down small hilly streets, has us turn left and right, left and right, left and right, drives us through areas with which we’re not familiar at all; basically, making us take a new route every day. Yet, somehow it gets us to where we need to go.

When our goals lead us through and to unfamiliar routes

Many of us encounter a similar trip when working towards our goals or aspirations—not the clear straight path we might have been, or still are, hoping for. Whether it be a working toward a promotion at work, increased financial security, a weight loss goal, or pretty much anything else, we may often wish there was a foolproof manual, an “app for this”, a step-by-step guide, or another person to lead the way.

While seeking out resources, support, advice of others, or a good Google search may be helpful, they don’t help us avoid encountering novel difficulties and hurdles on our journey or feeling ambivalent about whether or not we can get there.

If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make up with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.  – Joseph Campbell

Even if someone does have a step-by-step how-to, or a way in which they had been able to reach their desired goals, it doesn’t mean we can or shouldfollow along exactly as they suggest. Whether it be differences in our personality, life circumstances, style, values, or upbringing, we all encounter the world in very different ways. As a result, our goals and our paths are uniquely shaped by us.

Our differences contribute to how we each formulate our goals, how we pursue them, how we handle the roadblocks or tolerate the setbacks, and how we react once we get there.

Things to remember as you head out

An important step to take as you are beginning to move towards your destination is to assess your current position and to accept where you are right now. We’ve all had the experience of being stuck in a grid-lock feeling, almost certain that we have no options. In such situations, it often means taking the time to accept the circumstances and accompanying feelings.

Sometimes all we can do is feel the frustration and then listen to a good song or podcast. Other times we may need to phone a friend or consider changing our path. Assessing where we are in terms of achieving our goals can help us to re-formulate our plan when adaptation to new circumstances is needed and to seek out necessary support.

Walking a new road can often come with experiences of fear, excitement, worry, anger, resentment. It becomes essential to check-in with yourself to see if you need support managing and exploring some of the feelings that arise.

Another useful step here is to take a moment and review your route options. Not following an exact path does not mean aimlessly walking through the woods in the dark. Looking at the roads people have already taken, seeking advice and consultation, pursuing knowledge and education, trying new things—can all help you to make informed decisions about the possibilities available to you on the road to your desired outcome.

It may not be (or more accurately — it usually isn’t) a straight clear path. Your path may have twists and turns, obstacles along the way, and a steep incline or two. However, these things likely make it all the more rewarding in the end. Even better, you may learn new lessons and short-cuts for the future, that wouldn’t have been seen or experienced if you took the same old road, or the road many others have taken. These lessons could lead to even more roads and possibilities or simply to an easier navigation plan when you head out next time.

It seems that at the end of the day, as we turn on our apps to head home, there is something to learn from Waze—that no matter the type of road you take, no matter how many roadblocks or detours you may encounter, no matter how many pot-holes or “construction on road ahead” you may bump into, you willnevertheless get to YOUR destination via YOUR route.



I’m Samantha Liberman,M.A. , one of the therapists you could see at Wright Institute Los Angeles where we offer Affordable Therapy for Everyday People!

Samantha is a doctoral candidate at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles. She has previously trained at The Chicago School Counseling Center, Hillsides Full Service Program, and The Achievable Foundation working primarily with adolescents and adults. She is passionate about working with patients utilizing psychodynamic and object-relational theories.