Don't wait till you're really lost.
By September, family vacation trips are history. While the kids may forget some details, my sense of direction will always be a lively topic for discussion. I am one of those men who confidently read vague road maps and decide on which routes will best lead to the desired destination. Quite often, I am incorrect. In fact, I'd probably be better off selecting the turn which seems to be the wrong one.
But all that is behind me. I have a kind voice that now guides us through the treacheries of country roads and unclearly marked exits. Her name is GPS.
Just key in a starting and ending point and I'm all set. With her gentle voice, she eases me through the roads, telling me how far it is till my next turn. Sometimes she advises alternate routes, to bypass obstacles. When I make my inevitable wrong turn, she does not lose her cool but stoically announces RECALCULATING. Ah the music to my ears. I am no longer lost in oblivion, at the mercy of harried gas station attendants who don't give me clear directions. I'm on my way.
Life also has a beginning and an end point. The end points are goals. The road consists of all the obstacles God puts before us, challenges to grow by and strengthen us. The roadblocks are many, some small some large. We all make mistakes. That's what the High Holidays are about. They are how a person does a RECALC over the year. In reality, though, it's not enough. If you are traveling from New York to Washington DC, you would not want to do your first RECALC when you find yourself in Chicago. It can be done, but it's a bit late and the effort to correct yourself is substantial.
The solution to this problem is to consider what your end point is and monitor it along the way. Your personal GPS, alternately known as the soul, can RECALC any situation. But you have to press the button and be willing to listen to the message.
Better Spouse/Parent: You catch yourself being angry at something trivial. You want to yell or argue, to express your frustration. What is your real goal? Do you want to win a silly battle, or do you want to be closer to your family? Do want to win a fight, or live in peace? Do you want the satisfaction of scoring a TKO, or do you desire the inner calm of knowing you have defeated your inclination for a hot outburst of wrath?
Think beforehand. RECALC! Even if you blow it, you can still RECALC. If you can't do it right now, maybe you'll be primed and ready for next time. Eventually, you'll succeed because you'll be ready before the passion to respond engulfs you.
Food: Do you really need another slice of pizza? Must you try every food at the smorg? RECALC. Your goal is to exercise self-control. It's not simply a matter of watching your waistline and cholesterol. You want to be the boss of your desires and not let them be your master. What's your goal? Think, don't just follow the herd.
Self Development: What do you want to do with your life? What type of person do you want to become? Is what you are doing conducive or detrimental to that goal? Sure we have to get off the treadmill and occasionally relax, but are you doing anything that will lead you away from your destination?
Write your goals down and devise a route for getting there. Intermittently (daily, weekly, monthly) visit the list and RECALC. Every successful business uses this process, and every successful human should, too. In Judaism, we call this a “Spiritual Accounting.”
Don't wait till you're really lost. RECALC along the way. Your trip will be much smoother, and you'll eventually get to your destination. And even if you manage to just come close, at least the kids in the backseat will have less to complain about.