Any number of circumstances could lead you to unmapped territory. Maybe you took a wrong turn or the terrain shifted or you sought out the adventure of the unknown.
How do you navigate in unmapped territory?
A map and directions are of no use to you when you’re navigating terrain that has never been explored before.
Does that mean you’re lost?
For some people, it does.
But not for everyone. Because some people have a back-up tool: a compass.
A compass can orient you when you have a map, and especially when you’re in unmapped territory. A compass works if you don’t know where you’re going, or even if you don’t know where you are.
It calibrates to true North, and from there you can find your way.
The Compass in Life
In life, your values create your compass.
Your compass dictates everything in your life: what you buy, what you do, how you spend your time, who you choose to spend it with.
When we are clear on our values, the decision on which path to take is easy. All decisions are value clarifications; they show us what our compass is.
That doesn’t mean following that direction is easy; in fact, our compass may point us toward the option that feels more difficult and uncomfortable. Sometimes the compass points us to the direction that we don’t feel we want to go in, but it’s the path aligned with our values.
Defining Your Compass
Unfortunately, many people don’t think much about their compass. We all start out in life living according to other peoples’ compasses. We inherit a set of values from our parents, our communities, our culture.
You may have lived your life so far according to these compasses, even if you intuitively know it’s not aligned for you.
It’s like following the directions from the GPS even when you know that there’s a better route. You go along with it, but inside you feel uneasy because you know you’re overriding your inner sense of direction.
Recalibrating Your Compass
Big life disruptions — a severe illness, a devastating loss, a big move, a global shakeup or pandemic — put us in unmapped territory. This is natural opening to recalibrate your compass.
By forcing us out of the daily rhythm of our lives, these disruptive events offer us the opportunity to step back, assess how we have been living, and choose a new set of values that will align us to what we most desire in life and how we wish to live.
It’s a good time to step back and examine your compass. Some questions to ask yourself:
- What values are guiding you through life?
- Are they the values that you say you wish to live by?
- Are they taking you where you want to go?
- What needs to change?