I came across an interesting study where a researcher had people walk in unfamiliar territory and they went in circles when they couldn’t see the sun. The circling was even worse when they were blindfolded. The researchers were trying to collect empirical data to support the age-old idea that when humans get lost they walk in circles.
Here’s a piece of the beginning of the study so you know to what I’m referring:
Common belief has it that people who get lost in unfamiliar terrain often end up walking in circles. Although uncorroborated by empirical data, this belief has widely permeated popular culture. Here, we tested the ability of humans to walk on a straight course through unfamiliar terrain in two different environments: a large forest area and the Sahara desert. Walking trajectories of several hours were captured via global positioning system, showing that participants repeatedly walked in circles when they could not see the sun. Conversely, when the sun was visible, participants sometimes veered from a straight course but did not walk in circles.
We tested various explanations for this walking behavior by assessing the ability of people to maintain a fixed course while blindfolded. Under these conditions, participants walked in often surprisingly small circles (diameter < 20 m), though rarely in a systematic direction. These results rule out a general explanation in terms of biomechanical asymmetries or other general biase. Instead, they suggest that veering from a straight course is the result of accumulating noise in the sensorimotor system, which, without an external directional reference to recalibrate the subjective straight ahead, may cause people to walk in circles.
~ read the entire study HERE
Now, as fascinating as this research is, let’s take the idea into a more abstract thought… and go farther.
Or rather, further. “Farther” is for physical distance and “further” for metaphorical, or figurative, distance. (Sorry-not-sorry for the word-nerd-ism.)
What is your fixed point?
A goal might be a fixed point…
- if your goal is to be a doctor, there’s a direct path to get there. It might take a long time, but you can discover which schools to attend, courses to take, and what practicum is needed.
- if you want a thriving marriage, you focus on your spouse and learn each other’s nuances. You read, attend marriage workshops, and perhaps even look for a couple to mentor you.
- and it works for small goals too – if you want a vegetable garden, you need to prepare the soil, plant seeds of the specific vegetables you want to eventually harvest, water the seeds and wait.
This isn’t hard.
Too often we drift. We wonder why we are feeling like we’re going in circles in life. There doesn’t seem like there’s any progress.
If this is the case, I’m going to suggest we don’t have a fixed point – a goal. Or a particular goal is too big – it needs to be broken into smaller goals.
Are you clear on your goal? Or goals…
1- Have you written your goal down?
A written plan is important for any goal. Perhaps you’ve used the SMART method to determine your goal? (S = specific | M = measurable | A = achievable | R = relevant | T = time limited) — Click HERE for a worksheet to do this exercise.
2 – Do you have accountability partners for your goal?
Many people can handle reaching a goal on their own. However, having accountability partners makes the goal much easier to achieve. And then you have someone or many to celebrate with when you achieve it! Perhaps “accountability” is an uncomfortable word. What about a “mastermind group”?
3 – Are you reading and learning about your goal?
Most individuals can’t know everything about a topic. We all need input from other sources to solve a problem along the way or make better choices when we’re reaching for a goal.
4 – Mentors help you visualize the goal.
Do you have mentors who have already been where you want to go? Even if they don’t know you, it’s possible to have people you can learn from just by understanding their decisions and the path they’ve followed.
5 – Do you have milestones to mark your way to the goal?
Have you broken your goal down into various milestones? Sometimes a goal is huge, and you need smaller successes along the way to remain motivated.
If you’re going in circles…
Try one of these actions to find your fixed point.
What goals are you trying to reach? Make sure your path is straight…
“Though our feelings come and go, HIS love for us does not.” This is a quote by one of my favorite writers, C.S. Lewis.
Do you have moments where you doubt that God loves you? Sometimes we need others to remind us in those moments… and we can’t hear it enough.
Let me be the one to remind you now… be still and know…
God loves you.
“…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion…”
Philippians 1:6 NIV
It is not the end.
No matter how good things are… or how bad, God is not finished with you.
God loves you!
He has more for you. God is still writing your story – do not let go of your faith, just because you have yet to see the next chapter! (And yes, I do know how hard it is some days. Hang on.)
Remain faithful to HIM, as He has always been faithful to you.
We have every reason to be filled with hope – God is faithful, and will be faithful until it is the end.
I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
I’m going through a season of waiting on the Lord – of being thankful for what He provides and working toward being content regardless of the outer circumstances.
How ’bout you?
- Patience? Is that where you’re being worked upon?
- Love? Are you being prompted to love without condition or prerequisite?
- Hope? Is hope something God is asking you to nurture?
- Joy? Are you working on your joy?
- Self Control? Does growing in your self-control seem to be a focus?
In which areas of your life are you seeing God move to complete who He wants you to become?
Consider God’s hand in your life.
When we’re in the middle of a concern, it’s not always easy to keep in mind that God has the best for us as part of His plan. In the middle we can be so consumed by all the details that the bigger picture eludes us. It can be hard – almost impossible – to sort through the possibilities to see where these experiences and events are leading us…
God is in the details and the bigger picture!
Yes – God is directing the details to make up the bigger picture for our life. And His end goal is to bring us closer to Him. Regardless of the details, the big picture He wants for us is to be with Him for all eternity.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11 – NIV
When can you see how the details come together to build the big picture?
It’s easiest to see how all the details come together to build the big picture if you invest some time in quiet prayer to examine the details. Ask God to show you His plan for your life… you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results! (It might take a while – be patient and persistent in prayer. It’ll be worth it!)
“The un-examined human life is a lost chance to behold the Divine.” That’s a quote by Frederick Buechner, an American writer and theologian.
Grab the opportunity for a bit of examination on how God has planned out the details in your life. Take note of where it’s all come together for your good… so far!
And even if the details right now are kind of sucky, there’s more good to come! We can trust God. Just ask Him.
He loves us. He loves you!
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
~ Matthew 7:11
Pin this on Pinterest to remember!
When you pray to God regularly, get ready…
because irregular things will happen on a regular basis.
This quote is by Mark Batterson, an American pastor, and author. His book, ” The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears” is about prayer – big prayer. It’s about praying without ceasing.
Have you ever gone through a time where the only action possible was prayer? I have. And together with my circle of close friends, we’ve prayed a “circle” around a situation and then, eventually, saw God move in miraculous ways.
Are you in that kind of place right now? I encourage you to have faith – even if it’s only as small as a mustard seed. Reach out to those who are filled with a belief and faith in God, and ask them to join you in prayer.
Make prayer a regular activity. You will marvel at the irregular things God does!