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Where do you want to go? Find someone who’s been there and ask for directions.

On the Love Like You Mean It Cruise last week, we had docked for a half day at Key West. They’d told us over and over again that it was very important we be back on the ship at 1:30 p.m. as the ship was leaving the port at 2 p.m. and they didn’t want to leave anyone behind.

We made sure to verify the time before we caught a free trolley and headed out for a morning of exploring Key West. We were engaged in conversations with friends and weren’t really paying attention to how the trolley got us into downtown nor where the trolley was supposed to pick us up once we were ready to go back to the boat.

We loved the shops, the beautiful weather, visiting Harry Truman’s Little White House, and taking pictures of James Audobon’s house (we tried to find Earnest Hemingway’s house, but we got messed up on directions and missed it!). A little after noon, we decided it was time to start heading back in the direction of the boat. We felt like it was only a mile or so away and we had lots of time so we didn’t even mess with trying to figure out how to take a trolley back. We just started walking on foot.

We could see the ship docked next to our cruise ship in the distance, so we both confidently walked for blocks and blocks until we reached that ship, thinking it’d be easy to then just walk a little farther to get to our ship. However, when we got to the second ship, we discovered that you could only board that ship from that dock. Our cruise ship was right next to it, but the docks weren’t connected and all of the passageways were gated off.

So, we retraced our steps, and then headed in the direction of our cruise ship. After walking and walking, hitting dead end after dead end, we started realizing that this was nowhere as easy as we thought it was going to be. By this time, it was around 12:50 p.m. and we were beginning to panic a little knowing that we only had 40 minutes left before we were supposed to be back on board. Since they had no way of contacting us on shore, if the cruise ship left, we were stuck in Key West with nothing but the clothes on our backs and a little money. Not exactly what we’d choose

And not only were we panicking about the fact that we might be left behind, but we were now also in an area of Key West that was off the beaten tourist path. In fact, it started to look quite run down. There were people milling about who were very clearly not tourists — and it was pretty obvious that we were tourists — and lost tourists, at that.

After encountering a few rather creepy individuals, we decided to just start running for the nearest busy thoroughfare we could find — even though it was blocks away and we had on flip flops. (It’s amazing how those little details fade when you feel like you are somewhat running for your life!)

We finally breathlessly made it back to a more touristy part of Key West, with just 30 minutes to go until our ship was supposed to leave port. We were exhausted, out of breath, and still very lost.

Feeling a bit helpless, we did what we should have done from the start: we found a trolley that was stopped at a stoplight and asked for directions. The kind woman started to trying to explain to us how to get to back to the ship, but then she said: “Nevermind, it’s really hard to explain. Just get on the trolley and I’ll take you there.”

Let me tell you, those were sweet words of relief to us! With her experience and navigational skills, we ended up making it back to port in no time at all.

We both realized we learned a good lesson that day: if you don’t know how to get somewhere, it’s much more efficient to ask for directions from the get-go than to go on a wild goose chase trying to figure it out yourself.

We can apply this same lesson to our finances or to other goals in our lives. So much of the time, we can know the end destination of where we want to get to — be it to become debt-free or to lose 20 pounds or to build a successful business — but we really don’t have a clue how to get there.

So we try all these different rabbit trails and dead ends to get there, too embarrassed or proud (or just plain stubborn!) to stop and ask for directions from people who have been where we want to go. In the process, we end up wasting so much time and energy and end up making no progress.

Where do you want to go? Find someone who’s been there and ask for directions.

  • Do you want to get on a budget? Read books and blogs with practical financial advice on living on a budget. Find someone in your circle of friends who is living on a budget and ask them if they’d be willing to review your budget with you and give you some pointers on what you can do to improve. Ask them how they’ve achieved the financial success they have. Encourage them to check in with you regularly to make sure you’re staying on track.
  • Do you want to start a business? Read books and blogs on leadership, entrepreneurship, and marketing. Pick the brains of anyone you know who has or has had a business. Ask them to share their successes and failures. Ask them for their top three best suggestions for you, a budding entrepreneur. Ask them if they’d be willing to critique your business idea/plan.
  • Do you want to be more successful at goal-setting? Read books and blogs on goal-setting and intentional living. Find a friend who does a great job of setting goals and ask them to mentor you in this area. See if they would be willing to help you determine what your pitfalls to goal-setting success are and to regularly check up on your progress.

Note: Don’t ever expect or ask for someone to spoon-feed you or try to leech off of someone else’s success. This is a guaranteed way to meet an instant closed door when you approach a successful person. However, most successful people will be more than happy to give you at least a few pointers if they see that you are motivated, teachable, and truly want to learn.

What area(s) of your life do you need to ask for directions in today? Who’s an experienced navigator you know whom you could go to and ask for some guidance from? Tell us in the comments.

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  1. says

    I always think that hanging out around people who are going where you want to be going is so helpful. If you’re trying to get your finances in order, spending time with people who are big spenders isn’t very helpful!

    Like you pointed out in your post, through books and blog posts, you can “hang out” with people without ever meeting them in real life.

  2. Anonymous says

    Always pray, pray, pray and ask God to lead you and bring the right individuals along to minister to you. Thanks Crystal.

    • says

      So true. I have found that God often brings just the right people with the wisdom I need at the right time.
      Also, I agree with the idea of finding an expert. I have a background in IT and the troubleshooting I learned in programming has helped me a lot in life. First, you find an example where the thing WORKS. Then, you work backwards a bit at a time to understand why it works. So, with writing a book, for example, I deconstructed books that worked to understand what I liked about them. With homeschooling, I found moms who knew much more than me (there are so many) to find out what worked for them. I like learning from those who have found success.
      This is one reason I liked the book “The Millionnaire Next Door.” It tells you the habits of most millionnaires, and you can learn a lot from them. I highly recommend it (from the library) to anyone working on getting out of debt or saving money. :)

      • Sandra says

        I received a copy of “The Millionaire Next Door” from a surgeon I worked with. So grateful he introduced me to that book. It’s a definite must read.

  3. says

    Very encouraging. I have used some of your tips for starting a blog and find your advice very informative. Key West is a beautiful place. Glad you and your husband made it back safe and in time :)

  4. says

    I’m brand new to blogging and doing everything I can to learn all the ins and outs. There is so much to learn! I’m getting a wonderful education by following your blog as well as a handful of other inspiring bloggers. So thank you for your example!

  5. Anonymous says

    Whew! We have been looking at visiting the keys. I have read several comments about how dangerous key west is especially outside of tourist areas. I am glad you all made it back safely to your ship and in time.

  6. Mylynda says

    These are truly words to live by. They reminded me of Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Thank you so much for sharing so many of your experiences(good and bad) with us. I have learned so much and have been blessed so many times with your teaching and examples. God Bless You.

  7. says

    Your post reminded me of something Dave Ramsey says all the time. If you want to get out of debt, listen to the advice of people who ARE out of debt, and “if broke people are making fun of your financial plan, you’re on track.”
    “Broke people giving financial advice is like a shop teacher with missing fingers.”
    For some reason, it’s those people are very forthcoming with their advice. To find the right type of advice, we need to put in the effort to find them.
    Getting directions from someone who knows how to get there is SO important, instead of stumbling around trying to figure it out on our own.
    “A fool never learns from his mistakes and is doomed to forever repeat them. An intelligent man learns from his mistakes. But only the wise man has the ability to learn from the mistakes of others”.

  8. says

    That was a great post.
    I love how you are able to find the lesson in every situation.
    That shows that you think about what you guys could have done differently and your mind
    Is just built to compare it to life :)

    I myself am trying to build a business and a blog.
    I keep telling myself I have to try it and get the ball rolling.
    I have read so much that I feel it just holds me back, so I love that
    You say ASK!!
    You are actually a great examaple to me of a great
    Entrepreneur, you built something from nothing.
    I enjoy hearing about your success in your ebooks and
    Investments that you and your husband make. It really motivates
    Me to push myself!!

    At any rate thanks again for pushing and motivating
    Your readers. Your blog is the only one I follow( when my husband says what am I reading
    I now refer you to my friend cuz I have been following your blog so long :) ha … And I don’t
    Really care for the coupons anymore but the posts !

  9. says

    And after reading the books ….go out and do it! I often have problem with this step. I am famous for reading book after book on a subject but never taking that leap of works and faith to applying the information to my life and getting going with my goal.

  10. Guest says

    Glad you made it back in time!

    I have to laugh a bit because I have to consciously make the opposite choice. I’ve always been very quick to ask for advice or seek out answers. What I’ve not been good at is being okay with some discomfort along the journey. I was dreadfully unhappy my freshman year of college and my mother suggested I “get lost” in my new town (note that though there are rundown areas there were not generally unsafe areas). It was some of the best advice I’ve ever received and I’ve continued to remind myself at times to get lost. I’ve gotten lost in multiple cities in multiple countries and those side streets, parks and shops have been some of my favorites. There are clearly factors to consider (such as your time constraints and safety) but for those of us who are Type A all the way, a little meandering can be a really positive thing.

  11. says

    What a good reminder to emulate only the people who are where you want to be! I sometimes fall into the trap of wanting to do what others do — without considering that I don’t want to be the kind of person they are.

  12. Michele M says

    This post made me laugh! I had a similar experience in Juneau, Alaska. My two children and I decided to walk the “short” walk back to our cruise ship so that we could take our time and see more sights. My husband had stayed at home and he definitely is the one with the better sense of direction. I could see our ship, but had no idea how to get to it. We finally stopped at a shop and asked directions and ended up walking a long, long way. I can definitely relate to the feeling of panic setting in! Great job making it into an object lesson for life!

  13. says

    LOVE your post. This principle has been one of the things that has helped my entire LIFE so far. I didn’t really have a lot of “parenting” as a kid or young person, but thank God I liked to read, so I started reading books about lifeskills that my upbringing never taught me.

    Now that I’m older, I find that I learn so much not only from books, but especially from “more seasoned” folks who are like parents to me. I can’t imagine my life without these amazing, godly influences, and I thank God for mentors every day!

  14. Rochelle says

    I need a lot of help with goal setting…I know it sounds silly but it’s a skill I was never taught so I have a hard time coming up with where I see myself in 5 years! I always hated that question. I have also asked my Mother-in-law for parenting advice but she always declares that her children were perfect. Ha! I live with one of them and I know that’s not true:0) I guess I will have to find someone with imperfect children like mine…anybody out there???

    • says

      It sounds to me like you need to dream a bit. Don’t ask yourself “where do I see myself in 5 years?” That’s too vague. Instead try thinking about what your priorities are and where do you hope to make improvements. Try for a shorter timespan, maybe 3 months.

      And yes, of course your MIL had perfect children :) That tells you what excellent taste you have.

      • Rochelle says

        Ha! Never thought of it that way. I do have excellent taste even if he isn’t perfect:0) thanks for the encouragement…

  15. Sumitha says

    Love how you took an occurrence in everyday life and drew a beautiful life lesson out of it! I agree the two fastest ways to get somewhere you haven’t been – physically, in business, dealing with debt, etc. – are (a) ask for directions from someone who has has been there, as you mentioned or (b) hang out with others who are headed to the same place as Kristen mentioned. Having a good guide and the company of like minded people has been such a help in my new venture!

  16. Jennifer says

    I agree with your points, but how do you get past the embarrassment of not knowing how to do something? How do you hang out with people that you know have it more together you? I’m continually thinking why would they want to be with me? Wouldn’t they rather spend time with someone that is more successful than them? Won’t they tire of my asking questions and trying to better myself?

    • says

      Jennifer, just remember that if they are anyone worth spending time with, they will respect you for admitting what you don’t know, instead of it holding against you. No need to be embarrassed!

  17. says

    My husband and I would love to attend the LLYMI cruise! Hope you had a blast – other than getting lost, of course!

    I have a growing business, so my areas of direction would be how to better schedule my time and our routine so that I can balance my business needs with those of my family. I’m getting there, by finally realizing I can’t do it all and need some help inside the home while I’m working.

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