Pathways: A Journaling Exercise


gray pathway surrounded by green tress

Photo by Skitterphoto on

Like spokes in a wheel with your present day self in the center, there are many paths that you could potentially follow with this very moment being your starting point.  This could be with respect to your general life direction, or it could be related to a specific topic…your choice of career, what to have for dinner, where you choose live or what creative project you want to pursue, just to name a few.  The possibilities are endless.  Possibilities are a beautiful thing, but they can also overwhelm us, leaving us feeling paralyzed by the prospect of choosing which direction to go in next.

The next time you are evaluating the options that fan from this present moment, try this:  Take out your journal and a pen and write ME in the center of a clean page and draw a circle around it.  This represents your present self.  From there, draw lines like spokes on a wheel outward.  At the end of each line, write a few sentences that describe a potential pathway that you can imagine leading forward from this present moment.   Continue until you have touched on all of the pathways you can envision for yourself.  As I said, this can be with respect to a general life direction or it can relate to a specific topic.

Once you have finished, have a dialogue with the self that chose each path.  Ask him or her to describe the experience of taking that path for you.  What does he or she enjoy about having chosen this path?  What has been challenging about it?  Let each “future self” have a chance to offer you a glimpse of their experience along their particular pathway.

You may find, as some of my students did, that as soon as you start writing about a particular pathway it becomes a dead end.  Others will feel alive, juicy and full of promise.  Choose the one that feels the most appealing to you.  Go back to the self that chose that pathway and ask him or her for some words of advice or wisdom.  What kind of message does he or she have for you as you are just beginning the journey in that direction?  Let his or her voice flow through your pen onto the paper.

Now, guided by the wisdom offered to you by your inner voice, choose your pathway.  Start moving in that direction.  Let the other pathways fall away for now.  You can move as slowly as you need to, and you can always reevaluate as you move forward.  Come back to this exercise anytime you need help sorting through the possibilities that lead outward from here.



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