Hand holding a compass in the wilderness


Recently I used Google Maps to drive to a location downtown that I couldn’t remember how to get to from home. I was in the car (stopped) and had already entered the address when I dropped the phone. When I picked it up again, I didn’t recognize the map location at all. While falling and picking it back up again, the screen relocated to a geographic area 100 miles west of where I wanted to go.

My mind struggled to figure out where I was. Where is my blue – you are here – dot? I felt a momentary sense of panic, almost as if I was lost in the woods. But then my eyes lighted on the “re-center” button. I tapped the button. Rapidly the map reoriented itself around my current location. I could “proceed to the route.”

If only re-centering in life were this simple. We’re humming along our path toward our goals in our career or personal lives. Or we maintain a focus on what we value most in life, like time with family. But then things happen: an accident or illness, or a loss, a new opportunity or just an extended request or demand for our attention. Sometimes a series of urgencies, events or people draw us off course. Or we simply look away from our goals for a bit – take a break. That’s it – we’re off center again.

Long ago my driver’s ed. teacher said, “Your steering wheel follows your eyes.” Look left or right while driving and your hands on the wheel will follow. The car drifts into the wrong lane. Sometimes a sideways glance or short detour (figuratively speaking) is all it takes for us to veer off course from our life goals. When we look up, we are a 100 miles away from where we want to be in life. It can happen in our work, personal relationships, health resolutions or any area we care about. On a smaller scale, this happens with our daily to-do lists too. 

No matter when or where we realize we lost our focus, it is never too late to re-center ourselves. Turn your eyes (and mind and energy) back to your purpose, your goals, your values and beliefs. Then plot a new course FROM WHERE YOU ARE NOW to where you want to go. Re-centering ourselves may not happen quickly, like with Google Maps, but it can still happen. Accepting that life creates detours regularly makes it easier to recognize them when they happen, pause, hit the re-center button and get back on course.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on re-centering in your life and any tips you have to share on the topic.