The Road Ahead

The photo above reminds me of the highway between Los Angeles, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada. During the past 30 years, I’ve traveled that road over 100 times. On many occasions, there was a fleeting impulse to veer off one of those solitary exits and follow that road to its end, perhaps being even more defiant and swerving off-road for a more exciting adventure. But I haven’t, and chances are I never will. There is little doubt, however, the next time I make that trip, a similar urge will occur.

I don’t begrudge the fact I’ve never attempted it. It’s a silly fantasy that only happens while on that drive. There’s no undying need to venture out and more importantly, I’m not well-equipped nor trained to grapple with disaster in the middle of nowhere.

Sometimes though, life’s journey steers us in unknown directions and we are confronted with the possibility of facing this metaphorical offramp leading to what appears to be in the middle of nowhere. How do we approach these difficult and puzzling paths? Furthermore, why does such a predicament happen when we’ve worked so hard to plan each step of our journey to avoid it?

Step one

According to estimates from the Population Reference Bureau, approximately 107 billion people have lived on the earth throughout its history. This means there have been 107 billion different life’s journeys. But out of all these journeys, the most important is the one on which you travel.
The expression, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step” has been cited for over 6 centuries. However, this term never examines what happens after that first step and for the next 2 million steps needed before reaching that one-thousandth mile.

There is no road map designed exclusively for you. While there are sources available written specifically to help guide you, the best cartographer to map out your own journey is you.

There are many elements influencing our journey’s course and direction. From birth, our environment and circumstances play a huge role on how it begins. Individual personalities likewise help forge that trail. Where many stagger and misstep is in the ability to maneuver the frequent barriers and obstacles impeding their progress.

Often, we look for inspiration from others by reading or listening to their accounts on how they overcame and conquered their hurdles. While they can be truly inspiring, the difficulty arises when we wholeheartedly believe our journey should mirror theirs. We are not that person, and using this reasoning will likely result in self-imposed barricades which are the most difficult to defeat.

Some personalities thrive when being pushed to their limits. Alternatively, others use a more calm, contemplative approach. The emotional “firing up” creates the opposite effect and they deliberately stop in their paths.

An exit strategy


Some exit signs along highways prove to be quite helpful. When our vehicle is running low on fuel, offramps with fueling stations provide the necessary energy to keep us going.

During life’s journey, periodically a symbolic refueling encourages and motivates us to keep on an optimistic trajectory. Sometimes this is done with aid of coaches, trainers, therapists, clergy, or consultants in every imaginable field. They are trained to help you figure out what deficiencies need work and which strengths can become stronger.

When searching for a coach, especially in the area of personal development, look for someone whose goal is to guide you rather than dictate what your issues are. They often have set strategies and are rigid in their approach. This puts the emphasis on their plan instead of focusing on you.

While working with clients, my goal is to empower them to find their own answers and not prescribe or impose what I have deemed is best. Even if I were to believe I’ve fully uncovered all of their issues, it has no impact or meaning unless they can discover it for themselves.


In many cases, the biggest obstacle we have to overcome is ourselves. More specifically, the negative and limiting beliefs we have come to believe are the truths about who we are. Again, use discretion when being inspired by others. Perhaps their story felt incredibly similar but yours had a different and much less successful outcome. Comparing yourself initiates doubt, disappointment, and shame. These are all hazardous roadblocks that we ourselves have placed in our own way. It’s important to glean inspiration and some of their valuable techniques to propel you to success while not allowing your insecurities or self-criticism to impede your progress.

One of the most valuable lessons along this journey is gaining better self-understanding. Developing a greater awareness of who we are allows us to forge a better and clearer path moving forward. Truthfully, greater self-awareness may be our journey’s ultimate goal.

The one common element in all our journeys is they cross paths and are integrated with those around us. While we strive to fashion our own distinctive journey, it is vital we support, care, and have concern for the success of others. Anyone believing their path rides independent and high above everyone else supports their thoroughfare with pillars of arrogance and deceit. Those whose goal is to make it to the top with blatant disregard for how they treated others are blinded by their own conceit. Eventually, their bridge, which was built on false beliefs of superiority and entitlement, will come crashing down under the weight of their own delusions and selfish ambitions.

Some journeys will inevitably rise above others. But when they are grateful and passionate about helping others succeed, they will be appreciated for their successes and honored for their dedication to making this world a better place.

Every journey is unique. No matter who has helped guide us along the way, our choices are what ultimately lead us to the final destination.


John Dunia
John Dunia
John has a passion; and that is helping others heal from past difficulties and abuses. Healing became important when he realized how much it freed him from his own past and now works to help others experience that liberation. The key to his success was discovering that the most debilitating damage was his own shame and the destructive things he believed about who he was. Throughout his own healing journey, he became hyper-aware of how shame was affecting him while having little clue of its presence. Others noticed these changes and reached out to him for help. His methods were so effective that he made it a mission to shift his career into helping others. Adopting the term “ShameDoctor”, he continues to teach others to empower themselves through his remarkably effective techniques. “Shame is one of the biggest yet least talked about issues we face as individuals and society yet so very little is mentioned about it.” It is his purpose to change the way the world perceives shame and promote helpful and viable techniques to heal and overcome those past struggles. John’s book, “Shame On Me – Healing a Life of Shame-Based thinking” was self-published in 2016. In addition to working with clients, John also writes healing and insightful articles each week. He is also looking forward to speaking on the topics of shame and healing throughout the globe.

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  1. What a wonderful piece John. I love the idea of not obsessing over others journeys and to focus on our own. It’s easy to fall down that trap. Especially when there is no way to fully experience another journey. Sure you can talk to them. Read their memoirs. Or even watch their social media accounts. But you will NEVER be able to truly understand their journey. You won’t feel their highest highs or their lowest lows. So you are absolutely right, it’s best to “glean inspiration and some of their valuable techniques” but not obsess over the outcomes. Thanks for sharing your perspective on this.