Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.
~ Henry David Thoreau
Have you ever been called to do something for yourself or go in a direction that you knew would gain disapproval from others? Most of us have at some time or another. Recently, I fulfilled a dream I’ve had for quite a while; I got a tattoo. If my beloved, deceased mother could see it I am sure she would not give her nod of approval; it was her long-held opinion that only Hell’s Angels and crusty old sailors, of which I am neither, had tattoos. One of my old friends rolled his eyes, wondering if I had gone bonkers, trying to look “hip” at seventy-one years of age. I assured him that wasn’t the case and that while I loved him, I didn’t do it for his or anyone else’s approval or disapproval. I explained that I wasn’t a latent rebel trying to make a statement to the world; I did it for myself. Period.
What I know is that getting a tattoo is all about commitment; once you start there is no turning back; it becomes part of who you are.
Because I believe I know who I am I wasn’t looking for another label to define me; I didn’t want a tattoo to have a tattoo. In other words, inscribing “Born to be wild,” or having a skull and crossbones, or even my wife’s name tattooed on my arm didn’t call to me. I wanted my tattoo to be symbolic for me, as a mindfulness tool, to serve as a reminder of who I came here to be and what was mine to do. If I was going to be looking at it every day for the rest of my life, I wanted it to mean something to me–even if no one else saw it or liked it.
One day, while looking at my business logo, I was reminded of why I chose a compass to go with my vision statement of “Guiding People to Purpose.” With that remembrance, in a heartbeat, I knew what my tattoo would be. I reasoned, with a compass on my arm and the North Star pointing upward, toward my heart, my innate guidance system had a built-in visual display. In those moments when I may be feeling uncertain, or in need of a reminder of what is important, with one glance at my arm I will always know where to look first for guidance and direction; not to the world or the people in it, but within.
The takeaway: It’s important to listen to what the people who matter in your life have to say, but at the end of the day no one knows better than you what dreams and aspirations lie silently in your heart waiting for you to come true. You don’t necessarily have to get a tattoo on your arm to know that, you just need to, as Thoreau infers, be willing to go confidently in the direction of your dreams when your heart calls and live the life YOU have imagined even when others may think you have gone a bit bonkers, and they will, and that’s okay.