From far away the paths and end results might look the same. Both paths took a journey of small steps. Both ended up at something big, a goal perhaps. But zoom in close and you find both paths are two very different experiences.
On one side you start with a goal. You KNOW what you want to accomplish. You know where you are headed. With a laser-like sense of focus you map out the steps you need to take to get to the goal. The end result is already known. The challenge lies in both figuring out the steps you need to take to get there and then in taking each step. It is a much more linear path.
On the other side you do not start out knowing the goal. You do not know exactly what you want to accomplish. You start out with something you love. You explore that thing you love doing. It takes you a little to the left, a little to the right. The laser-like focus is on exploring and expanding this thing you find interesting. Is it a passion? Hard to say, you like it and you like doing it, but what is it going to lead to? The end result is not so clear. But if you do that thing you love and keep exploring and building on that body of work the path may still lead to a big end result (or not). The difference is you did not start out knowing where you were headed. You started out with curiosity, exploration, a desire to learn more, and a love of what you were doing.
Is one side better than the other? Both end with something big (which may lead to something bigger as you follow another path). Both take multiple steps and require a commitment in time and effort. Both allow for growth and development. But the journey is very different.
I think sometimes I get caught up in trying to make myself follow the linear path. I try to figure out the end result before I start and work backwards to set up the steps. I want a road map. I feel a need to know where I am headed before I even start. And because I do not always know the end result sometimes I do not even start. The truth is I spend a lot more of my life meandering and exploring. I learn and grow and take the less linear path which sometimes leads to something big and sometimes does not. I often feel conflicted about this, like I should know where I am headed and have more of a plan.
If I were my own best friend I would tell myself it is okay to not always know where you are going to end up. Instead be okay with that space of “not knowing.” Be okay with focusing on that moment in time when you are exploring. Be okay with accepting curiosity and curve balls as part of the life you are living. Be okay with knowing that even now, when you have kids and a mortgage and a marriage and bills and a respectable job, that you still may not know where you are headed. Embrace the unrest and see where it takes you. There are big things up ahead. Big and wondrous and marvelous things just waiting for you to arrive.