Life Is A lot Like Driving Along A Damaged Highway.

Recently, I was asked to travel to a town in New Zealand, named Kaikoura. As I had to be in another town the following day, I had to be back home that evening no matter what. Kaikoura is quite some distance from where I live, it’s a 1.5-hour drive to the airport, a 2-hour plane ride, then a 3.5-hour drive.

Kaikoura suffered large earthquake which caused damage to the town and surrounding roads, leaving it more isolated then it is usually is. To drive from the airport to Kaikoura, I had to take the longer inland road due to major repairs underway on the main arterial routes, this route was also under repair.

I rose at 4.15am to get to get to the airport in time to catch the first flight out. I uplifted a rental car which had kindly been upgraded by the rental company. Along the way I stopped off for a break to ensure that I was fresh when I arrived, not knowing soon after that I was to be continually slowed by roadblocks after this break.

Watching my GPS monitor, I wrongly assumed that it would predict any slow portions of the route. Stopping off was a mistake, these delays meant that I may not get to the venue on time. Two lane bridges were reduced to one lane, the road narrowed in parts so that travelling at the posted limit was far too dangerous, sheep being mustered along the public highway could not have been anticipated, a truck reversing out of a side road, an automatic control system allowing traffic to flow in the opposite direction despite no traffic being there, and a myriad of other distractions and interferences worked against me.

Despite all of this, I arrived well ahead of time and delivered a 3-hour presentation that was well-received.

Because I knew that it was going to be a slow drive back to catch my plane, I decided to change my return flight to a later time. I resigned myself to the fact that I would be late back home and would be tired the following day, nothing unusual there.

On the drive back to the airport from Kaikoura, the roadworks had ceased, the sheep were gone, traffic was flowing in the opposite direction to me, I had no hold-ups whatsoever. However, thinking to myself, I could never catch the earlier flight as I had to fuel the rental car, park it, race inside the terminal, get through security screening, change my airline ticket back to the original flight; the risk of rebooking to the earlier flight and missing it was too much of a risk.

However, after doing all that I needed to do, I got to the airport in plenty of time to make the earlier flight and time to have a quick bite to eat before boarding.

I reflected on my journey a few days later, and likened my trip to life. Here’s what I pondered;

  • Planning and preparation is everything – if you want to succeed at anything, planning and preparation provides the greatest chance of success.
  • You are going to hit roadblocks – any amount of planning and preparation may not be enough to get what you want, when you want it. Flexibility and perseverance are the keys to reaching your goals.
  • Potholes are everywhere - there is bad in everything good, and good in everything bad. Focussing on the good parts of the journey will help us deal better with the bad things along the way.
  • No one expects sheep on the road - life has a way of throwing things at us when we least expect it, it’s how we respond that is important.
  • Resigning ourselves to the fact that we aren’t going to reach our goal when we expected to can also be an invalid determination – when good fortune comes your way, grab it with both hands without hesitation or looking for reasons as to what could go wrong.
  • Despite how advanced we are, technology can never be relied upon – technology has made our lives easier, yet technology has also complicated our life. Additionally, technology is notoriously unreliable.
  • Make good use of those around you – if I had stopped to ask a local I may have been able to relax more and enjoy the long journey. Asking for help isn’t a weakness, it is a strength.
  • The end result might still be the same - if I had the confidence in my planning abilities I might not have worried so much. After all of the self-imposed stress, the end result was the same as I had originally planned. Trust in yourself.

The most important thing I learned from this 16-hour day, enjoy the journey. I will never get the opportunity to travel that same road again under the same circumstances. I wish that I had enjoyed it more while in the moment.

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