The Wrong Path

Thought-A-Day calendars are generally pretty cheesy. (Today’s thought: You CAN do it!) For years, though, I’d receive them as Christmas gifts, and I’d dutifully flip that page every single day. It usually produced an eye roll from me.

Until one day it didn’t. On a random Thursday in August I tore off the preceding page to find this Turkish proverb:

No matter how far you’ve traveled down the wrong path, turn back.

I stood in my kitchen looking at that page for a full minute, thinking. Then I thought about it on the drive to work. And, when I got home later, I preserved the thoughtful page on my bulletin board.

The proverb is both simple and profound - hell, for all I know that may be the very definition of a proverb. But this particular sentence hit me hard. At the time I was involved in a personal relationship I had no business being in. I’d known it for quite some time, but was reluctant to end it for one ridiculous reason: I’d invested so much time and effort.

Many times it’s not a personal relationship, but a professional one. You’ve been at a job for so long that it seems crazy to throw it away and start over again. All that seniority, all those benefits, all that accrued time off, and on and on.

It’s a pride issue. We add up all the months and years we’ve put into a personal or professional relationship and resist making a change simply because we hate to feel like a failure. In some cases the hesitation is warranted; I would never advocate blowing up a relationship just because you’re in a temporary trough.

Sometimes, though, you just know it’s the wrong path. Everything screams that you need to make a change, but you won’t pull the trigger. Maybe you don’t want to give up because it will somehow - at least in your mind - invalidate everything you’ve built. Maybe you keep trying to convince yourself it’ll work itself out.

Or maybe you’re just plain scared. No shame in that, my friend.

Turning around is hard, maybe one of the hardest things we’ll ever do. We’re afraid of how things will turn out, or how others will be affected. But let me assure you: If it’s the right thing to do, the sooner you do it, the better. All you’re doing now is marching farther and farther away from the right path, and you have only so many years to soak up the happiness that comes from being where you need to be.

(Although it’s just as cheesy as the calendar, I’m reminded of an old Diana Ross hit. She sang: “Do you know where you’re going to? Do you like the things that life is showing you?”)

After sleeping on the advice of that Turkish proverb, I ended the relationship. All of the fear and worry was for naught; it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My new path brought me back into the sunshine.

Give some thought today to your own path. Is it the one you’re supposed to be walking? Is it bringing you the joy you should be experiencing? Is today the day you push aside the fear and plot a new heading?

Take a deep breath, and keep reminding yourself: It’s not failure; it’s a course correction.

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