Did you hear the one about the woman who went to pick her friend up from the train station near her home in Brussels and found herself in Croatia? She followed her GPS, stopping twice for gas, pulling over to nap, driving through Germany until finally, when she got to Zagreb, Croatia, realized something was wrong.

I was visiting friends recently in Mexico, and I ventured out to walk to town on my own. I knew basically how to get there, but being unfamiliar with the streets I used my phone to direct me. When it told me to go the opposite way of my instincts I listened, thinking maybe some of the streets didn’t go through. When it kept directing me further and further away I kept thinking ‘this can’t be right’ but I followed it anyway. Finally after about 40 minutes I saw a cab and gave him the street name. He took me down a dirt road, looked left and right, went a little further to the intersection of 2 dirt roads and said (in Spanish) ‘this is it’. What? I was in the middle of nowhere, not in town. In my broken Spanish I told him I was trying to get to ‘Centro’ which got me dropped back where he found me.

Side note: This was not a case of bad GPS directions, this was my mistake, I put in the wrong street name!

Going against my instincts (and knowledge of the area!) I crossed highways and walked almost 2 miles over dirt roads in the wrong direction. What makes a person (me) do that? I knew it was wrong from the first step and yet I kept following the directions.

Trusting your intuition is not always easy, we are not trained in school to listen to our gut. It takes courage and commitment to tune into your personal GPS.

I learned 2 things here: First, I trust myself, which is a good thing. Second, never trust myself so much that I don’t listen to my gut.

Whatever you call it: intuition, instinct, gut reaction, inner wisdom, personal GPS or some other name, we all have it. We know the difference between real concerns and playing it safe. When it comes to the latter we are artful at creating evidence to support our thinking: If I can get my [boss, husband/boyfriend, mother, etc] to see my point, it will change; When I have been here long enough to be vested then I can think about the next thing; I have so much going on right now it’s not the time to add more to my plate;  Once I learn a little more about [fill in the blank] then I will be ready for the next step.

We know the difference between needing to have a conversation with someone and saying the same thing over and over in different ways. We know the difference between job security and getting satisfaction from our work. We know the difference between having a lot to do and creating busyness to distract from what’s not working. We know the difference between needing to take a class and being a perpetual student.

Listening to your inner GPS takes belief in yourself and a willingness to do whatever is necessary to tap into your potential—it is not for the feint of heart. But there comes a moment when not listening to your instincts becomes more uncomfortable than listening, and that is when you know you have entered new territory.

Happy trails partners!

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