When back-country hiking through unfamiliar territory, one critically essential survival skill is to regularly stop, check your position, and get your bearings.

You pull out the map, check the compass (or the GPS if you have one) and review where you’ve come from, verify where you are, and confirm or refine the course ahead. If you don’t take care to do this on a fairly regularly basis, you run the very real risk of losing your way, going off course, and running into danger.

In the journey of life, there’s a similar practice available to all of us that’s just as important to attaining the life we were meant for and deeply desire. I call it “checking your position,” and it’s basically the same process used by wilderness hikers, only instead of a map, we look at your life; and instead of a compass or GPS, the deep, true core of your heart.

In this New Year season of fresh starts and looking ahead, I challenge you to set aside just an hour or two to check your position in the journey of your life. All you need this brief guide, along with a journal and a pen to record your insights. Will you take on the challenge? Ready? Here goes:

Step 1: Review where you’ve come from.

  • As you think back over the last 12 months, where have you strengthened your footing or gained new ground?
  • What new discoveries have you made?
  • How have you changed as a result of these successes?
  • As you look back over the past year, where have you failed to advance, or even lost ground?
  • What obstacles have held you back?
  • How have you typically explained this struggle to yourself? What have you told yourself about it?
  • What’s been really really good about this past year?
  • What do you wish you could change about this past year?

Step 2: Look at where you are.

  • Now that you’ve looked back over the journey you’ve taken over this past year, where would you say you are now?
  • As you look at where you are in life today, what are you proud of?
  • What are you most disappointed about?
  • Where are you hiding?
  • How would you describe the current condition of your heart—as it is right now?
  • What’s the deep truth about your life as it is today?

Step 3: Refine the course ahead.

  • Where do you want your life to go in 2007? What would you love to see happen?
  • What do you want the “theme” of your life to be in 2007?
  • What struggle or obstacle would you love to finally overcome?
  • What new territory needs to be explored?
  • What are the things you must do in 2007 to move your life forward in the direction of your deepest heart desires?
  • Based on what you’ve explored so far, what specific goals will you set for yourself in 2007?
  • How will you ensure that you don’t lose sight of your goals, or lose your way in the coming year?
  • How will you know when your goal is achieved?
  • How will you celebrate when you reach your desired destination?

Look back. Check your bearings. Set the course ahead. It’s a simple practice, really. But sometimes it’s simple things like this that make all the difference in helping us define who are becoming and maximize the quality and impact of our lives in the world.
 

Michael D. Warden is a Professional Co-Active Coach, nationally certified through the Coaches Training Institute, and a member of the International Coach Federation. Michael’s clients’ one common trait is their passion to live a bigger life — to discover what they're here for, and boldly go after that vision with confidence and authenticity. Find more on his life and work at www.michaelwarden.com.