There Is No Straight Line To Getting Where You’re Going…

on March 4, 2013 | in Work | by

I used to think that life was a straight line, a series of boxes to be checked off sequentially. And if you did it right, you’d get to the end– you’d get to where you’re going.

College? Check.

Internship? Check.

Gainful employment? Check.



Rat race.





Not so fast…

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

with every step you take.

– Joseph Campbell

While re-crafting my e-course over the past months, I’ve been interviewing many a person who are filled to the brim by their work and their lives.

During a talk with a mentor and former professor of mine, he said something that’s stuck with me since:

“There is no straight line to getting where you’re going.”


Ding ding ding ding!

As I’ve not only navigated my own path, but researched and interviewed and learned about the paths of others, I’ve become more convinced than ever that the straight and narrow, fast and easy path is in fact a sure path to narrow results– it may lead to success, but most often to hollow success on someone else’s terms, a far cry from the sense of deep purpose and fulfillment and meaning that we seek.

Finding your true path, your true work and your true self requires leaping into unchartered territories.

And so it turns out, of course, that the road to your own center is rarely a straight one.

Ohhh, how I know this to be true: Over the past year, I’ve had my fair share of insecurities and doubts, stumbling blocks and questions, learnings and growth.

Since leaving my corporate finance job almost a year ago, I’ve many a time woken up wondering “Who am I?” and “Where am I?” and “What in the hell am I doing?”

I’ve cried and I’ve wallowed. I’ve found myself lost all over again.

Never in my life have I been riddled by such self-doubt, such anxiety, such uncertainty and fear.

And yet at the same time, I am finding myself all over again in a newer and deeper way. I’ve started my first businesstraveled to Thailand, and thrown caution to the wind. Every day I’m learning more about who I am and what I need– and unexpectedly, what I’ve learned is that I need more stability, more tethering, more structure than I’ve allowed for myself this past year.

It is strange to me that I’ve found myself back in my hometown after months of wanderings– and that it feels right.

It is strange to me that I have craved, and consequently sought out and landed, part time work for someone else (Woohoo, Tribute Media!).

And it is strange to me that under these circumstances, my own creative and business pursuits with The Unlost are in fact flowing more smoothly and easily than ever before. (More on this to come :-))

As I’ve both stumbled and flowed back & forth between Charlie Hoehn’s 6th and 7th levels of employment (<– read this post! Best ever…), what I’ve found is that for great companies and great people alike, it seems the road to your greatest self is very rarely a straight line.

Helllllll no– it’s one swirly, messy, ugly-beautiful scribble.

It’s an evolutionary process (which is exactly what I teach inside my e-course, reopening this April).

So, no… sorry to break it to you, but there’s no straight line to getting where you’re going.

This life, if lived well, will not be smooth and straight and paved.

It will be a series of dips and loops, of ups and downs, of forgettings and rememberings and awakenings.

And yet this is the road you must take in order to get where you’re going.

This is the path you must walk in order to become Who You Are.

And so as you walk this path, remember to be kind to yourself and to the person you are becoming. Be patient with the journey, with the process, with the ups and downs, the good days and the bad.

You yourself,

as much as anybody in the entire universe,

deserve your love and affection.

– Gautama Buddha ♥

Realize that the failures and disappointments and questions are far from stumbling blocks– in fact they are stepping stones to where it is you’re going and who it is you’re becoming. They are necessary, essential, dare I say integral, parts of the process.

Did you hear that?

The difficulties are an integral part of the process.

And for all that time you’ve spent thinking, searching, stumbling, thinking that maybe the straight & narrow was the safe path to travel, the safe way to live… you were mistaken.

You knew it the second you made it to the mountaintop and realized that you’d been there all along.

You’d been there all along.

And yet paradoxically, you needed to venture down into the valleys, down through the maze of the forests and back up the steepness of the cliffs, in order to find your way back to the place you’ve always known.

And once you returned home to that place in which you began, you could finally look down from the top and see your path– that great and rocky maze of a terrain that you were once lost in– for what it was all along:





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Know someone else who’s in the midst of finding their way? Share this with them!

[Image by osiatynska]

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  • Ah I love that Joseph Campbell quote! It’s one of my favorites. Great post as always, Therese!

    • Why thank you, mah lady sole commenter of the day :-)

  • I couldn’t agree more, Therese. I’m on my 7th different job since college ended 4+ years ago and I feel like with each job I’m learning more about myself, and having completely different experiences. I wouldn’t be in a great job today though, if I had kept doing the same thing I was doing right after college!

    • I’m glad you’re loving your job right now, Daniel!

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  • Ah, I love reading the reinforcement that the messiness is just all part of the process. It’s not easy doing big things and blazing new trails, and somehow just knowing other people are going through the same things (the hard and the wonderful) makes it all so much easier to accept and appreciate. Thanks for this one, T-Shiz.

  • Great to hear your back in the BOI!

    • Thanks Mike! Would love to see you again and catch up on the blog :)

  • Sander

    Thank you from Norway! Sounds like poetry, and well written :-)

    • therese

      Thanks, Sander :-)

    • :-)

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  • Jennifer Lisette Adam

    I would like to know if you have asked the universe to find the right person for you whether he is also undergoing the same kind of challenges you are facing as well. Or is it just me being challenged because I made the request? The thing is I would not want someone to get me easily if I have done enormous amount of work to get him. How does it work? The moment you made the request, does the other person’s life change as well to align with yours…….

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