Reflection is not one of my strong suits.
One year when we were driving to North Carolina I got pulled over for speeding by a police officer in Delaware. When he approached my window he said, “I was following you for 11 miles and you never slowed down.”
I can’t think of a more accurate metaphor for my life.
If I would have looked in the rearview mirror, I would have realized that I needed to slow down, but I was so focused on getting where I needed to go, that I lost sight of what was happening around me.
Thankfully, there were no casualties from my reckless abandon (other than a pricy speeding ticket), but the experience has stayed with me all these years.
As I teach my now 16-year-old to drive, it has gotten me thinking about the connection between driving and life, which I’ve broken into 4 simple principles:
- Stay in Your Lane. You know that obnoxious driver who cuts in and out of every lane trying to get ahead of everyone? Unless that person is on route the hospital, they are not only putting other drivers at risk, but they are sending a message that they are solely focused on themselves. On the road and in life, this leaves others uncertain of their next move. It’s not about getting there first. It’s about knowing who you are, being honest and authentic. You’ll get to your destination when the time is right.
- Check Your Mirrors. Be mindful of the people who surround us. Where they are going may or may not be any of our business, but we need to be respectful and aware of their presence. If we are leading a caravan, then our role as the lead car is important. If we are following, then we need to trust they are guiding us wisely. Even if we are on a solo journey, our actions still affect those around us, so remember to take time check your mirrors.
- Don’t Speed. We all want to get to our destination fast. The problem is that we often wait until the last possible second or overschedule ourselves to the point where we somehow think we can be at 2 places at once. This frenetic lifestyle almost forces us to move at the speed of light in order to keep up. Speeding is when mistakes happen. We snap at the people closest to us, beat ourselves up, and run the risk of crashing. I always tell my kids, if you don’t slow down, something is going to do it for you.
- Buckle Up. You never know what curve balls life is going to throw at you. We shouldn’t live in fear, but we do need to prepare and protect ourselves for the unexpected. Life is a bumpy ride so be proactive and smart. No one is invincible, and we’re not guaranteed tomorrow.
As I said at the beginning of this article, I am not one who is good at reflection. So rather than focusing at the mistakes I made or the things I wish I had done differently, I am looking ahead at the possibilities in front of me, and around me. We can’t change what we did yesterday, but we can change how we act tomorrow and the day after.
Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!