“Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where.
The Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go.
Alice: …So long as I get somewhere.
The Cheshire Cat: Oh, you’re sure to do that, if only you walk long enough.”
~ Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
Being a goal-oriented kind of person, I have an illustration that includes this quote in my office. It reminds me that writing out goals, creating strategies, and checking off accomplishments doesn’t matter a hill of beans if I don’t have a clear vision of where I’m trying to go.
Despite this reminder, I often find myself overcome with a feeling of being directionless. Yes, I have things I want to accomplish, but I don’t really have a big picture vision of how I want my life to unfold. I don’t have a long-term view of what my life will look like in 5, 10, or 20 years, and beyond. It’s not that I’m looking to plan out my path to the last detail – I know that’s impossible – but I can barely see beyond the end of the year. It’s a strange feeling for someone who, 20 years ago, had her entire life mapped out. Or at least she thought she did.
The trouble is, that life had always included children, and even as I made twists and turns in career, relationships, and geographical location, the expectation of someday becoming a mother was always a constant. Once it became a possibility, it also became the focus of my life.
Now that motherhood is no longer a realistic prospect, my vision of how my life will unfold is missing a big and important piece of the puzzle, and I’m finding it hard to see the future clearly. I have career goals and travel goals, but the vision of who I will be in the future is blurry.
Maybe learning firsthand that plans don’t always work out as we’d imagined has softened my need to make them. It’s also possible that I never really had a vision for my life, but instead adopted the cultural expectation of motherhood and called it my own. Regardless, now it’s gone, I feel like an early explorer who can see my world only as far as the horizon, with no idea of what might lie beyond.