Are you looking in the direction you want to be moving?
This quote resonates with me on many levels. In the simplest, most literal sense, I always need to be looking in the direction I'm cycling or driving. I'm the person that turns my head and my whole body (including the steering wheel/handlebars) follows. Yes, I have swerved and luckily recovered on many occasions.
Since seeing Marie Kondo speak at Wisdom 2.0 conference, I've also been thinking about it in terms of how the stuff we look at daily us influences our direction. I have been recently employing her KonMari method of purging things that don't spark joy. I started in on my office. Little by little, I've been working my way through two filing cabinets full of paper that I may have referenced only a hand full of times in ten years of business.
I can come up with all sorts of reasons why I saved it at the time, but as our business has evolved and technology improved, the files have become obsolete. It represents old ways of doing business, not the direction we want to be moving. Clearing away the clutter has created space for growth and expansion of new ideas. It also has caused me to be more mindful of what I'm holding on to and develop new processes around what I keep.
I love the question that Kondo asks, "Does it spark joy?" Am I surrounding myself with things that elicit positive energy or clutter that weighs me down? She also talked about recognizing that items may have brought joy at one time, but that they have done their work and it may be time to let go. I haven't had a chance to apply this to personal areas of my home yet. I have a feeling that may be a little more challenging.
On a less tangible level, Thoreau's quote reminded me of a habit I developed long ago of not second guessing decisions I make after the fact. I have a few family members that torture themselves with, "maybe I should have gotten the other pants, house, car, etc." It doesn't matter if it's a $30 purchase or a $30K one, the same degree of post-game analysis goes on consuming lots of energy and keeping them stuck in the past.
I always found it frustrating when they shifted this scrutiny onto my choices so I made a commitment to myself. When I'm making a decision, I gather information, pay attention to my gut, and gather opinions from people I respect. Once I've reflected on all of this, I make the best decision I can with the information I have and then move forward. Whatever the outcome, I learn from it and keep moving forward gathering lessons and continuing to grow. That's the direction I want to be looking and traveling.