Mapping My Path

You can thank my BFF for today’s post. She told me I really needed to blog about my treasure map I created last year, and she’s right. It’s the whole reason I’m headed where I am right now, and it was inspired by, of all things, a presentation about end-of-life care.

You see, about a year ago, I got to hear the famous doctor and author Atul Gawande speak at my workplace. His books have inspired many changes in the world of medicine, and his talk that day inspired me. He discussed his newest book, Being Mortal, which is, in part, about end-of-life care. He told us he’s learned to stop talking at his hospice patients and instead asks them four simple questions, questions with the goal of giving that patient their Very Best Day, each day that they have left:

  1. What is your perception of your condition?
  2. What are your biggest fears and concerns?
  3. What goals are most important to you?
  4. What trade-offs are you willing to make?

I turned to my friend and whispered, “Forget hospice. These are the questions we all need to ask ourselves every day of our lives.”

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I put one of these symbols on each 3×5 card. That orange one is a footprint.

Try as I did, I couldn’t let go of these questions for the rest of the week, until I finally got out a package of 3×5 cards and began to list all the things I really wanted in life, some real, honest goals; the steps I might need to take to reach those goals; and possible things I might have to give up along the way. I hung them on a bedsheet and hung the bedsheet on my living room wall to keep these thoughts front and center. After all, I’m an extremely visual person.

Treasure Map

(But I took it down and hid it when I had visitors.)

As I contemplated my treasure map, the first step kept going back to leaving my job. And last summer, I did, packing away the 3×5 cards into a box that I didn’t open again until this week. When I look through the cards now, I’m struck by how many of those goals I’ve already accomplished—probably a third—and I even see there are a few I’m not actually interested in anymore. There are a few on hold, and a bunch that are in progress (like setting up a creative office space).

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Only in the past month or so, I see I’ve finally come over the peak of the Everest that was post-job, and it’s amazing how things are coming together. It’s not luck, either. It’s not like things are magically taking place, no, but just that I actually have the energy now. The direction and drive. It’s amazing just how beaten I was a year ago. One of my goals was actually this simple:

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At this point along my path, I can hardly believe there was a time when laughter seemed so far away. I can barely remember a time when simple things like changing cell phone carriers or painting my kitchen table were too much to think about.

Interestingly enough, there is one goal I wasn’t even brave enough to list on a 3×5 card. (Scotland, anyone?)

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2 thoughts on “Mapping My Path

    • I ended up taping them to the sheet. I tried sewing and stapling, but that just wasn’t working, so I got out the packing tape. I’m not sure if I actually have any good pictures of it, unfortunately. I’m still gathering and organizing my data since my computer died in November.

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