As one year closes and a new one begins, the word on my mind is trajectory. The choices we make or those unequivocally made for us dictate the trajectory of our lives. Don’t they? I wonder. The “experts” tell us: think toward the future, don’t dwell on the past. Well, it’s just not that easy. If we do this, not that, what will we gain? What will we lose? And what if it doesn’t work out? Can we change it? And by it, I mean, our lives.

tra·jec·to·ry[truh-jek-tuh-ree] noun 1. the curve described by a projectile in its flight a chosen or taken course thefreedictionary

Synonyms: direction, movement, range, route thesaurus

Origin 1696, from L. trajectus “thrown over or across” etymology

Sometimes we need to “throw away” something in order to start something else. That could be a challenging decision to make. But at least we would be in a place of choosing, would we not? To be able to choose sounds like a promising place to be.

And how about this adage that has been playing on my inner turntable: if I keep doing what I’m doing, I’ll keep getting the same result. Do I stay on the same trajectory or do I change direction to try something different? Now may be the time to just do it!

On the other hand, we should take the time to consider the pros and cons of setting a new course. In detailing Ron Paul’s convoluted path from his beginnings in Congress to his present run for the Republican presidential nomination, Ross Douthat, in his Sunday, January 1, 2012 New York Times op-ed piece says, “There are two commonplace interpretations of Paul’s unusual trajectory.” In detailing all sides of Mr. Paul’s many paths, Mr. Douthat demonstrates the importance of evaluating such a multi-pronged public career.

Changes in direction can also be viewed as a beacon of inspiration. Steve Martin – comic, author, musician, playwright, and prolific tweeter – sets such an example. And that he does each to the best of his ability (which is pretty great, mind you) is just uber-inspirational.

At new year time and at crucial times we naturally find ourselves re-thinking our priorities, our goals, and our passions. To make a change is probably governed by one or more things – our capabilities, our desire, or our need at the time. And add in that there is always room to learn and room to grow, then why shouldn’t our paths swerve and change course when called for?

Although Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way sounds so much better than Go Your Own Trajectory, the song’s message that you better change your direction because this one is not working is pretty clear. Either way, we follow our guts and listen to our heart. That’s all we really have to go by. And then, like Dorothy and Toto, we’ll see what’s down that Yellow Brick Road called life.

There is always the time, the chance, or the opportunity to change our own trajectory. Let’s see where our choices lead us in this new year. And there’s always next year.

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