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Are You Headed in the Right Direction?

Have you ever had a day when you questioned everything about yourself? Maybe you asked yourself some difficult questions, like “Am I headed in the right direction?” or “How do I know that I am doing what I am meant to do?” There are no easy answers. I think at some point we all face not just questions, but an emptiness inside where we have to dig deep to come up with our own truths.

I would be lying if I said that I, a positive person, didn’t have a day here or there like this. Part of personal growth requires that you analyze what is happening in your life, and why. For me, it is always a feeling that I should be doing more. I set out my goals and see if they have a common theme. Generally, they are about how I can use my unique gifts and talents to make our world a better place. That includes my writing, speaking, and social media presence. I want to have a bigger impact and share positivity with more people. Still, is it really what I am meant to do?

Recently, I asked a question on social media, “What is success to you?” I received so many wonderful responses, from faith in God, to being an inspiration to others, reaching goals, training, helping others, doing what you love, happiness, and so many more. Each was a perfect response because it came from the heart of each individual who responded. The answers helped me evaluate my questions about my own life, and if I am doing what I am meant to be doing.

What it all comes down to is this. You do not need to worry about exactly where you are headed. Instead, focus on making sure you have the desire to set your life in motion. If you are too worried or too busy doing other things that do not lead to the accomplishment of your goals, it might be good time to assess how you can more productively spend your time. Rest and relaxation is essential to rejuvenate yourself, but laziness or inaction are quite the opposite. They will hinder you from ever finding your true vision of personal success.

Success does not create itself. I wish it would. I wish that I could wave a magic wand and find myself involved in all of the incredible plans that I have for myself without having to work so hard for them! On the other hand, the value of the task would be diminished. How many times have you taken things for granted? When you have to work for something, you feel its worth. It means something to you. The effort is part of the success. When you arrive at your end point, you have a history that cultivates meaning into your accomplishment.

When my family and I built our house, it was an incredible undertaking. It was a steel kit home that we put together ourselves, and lived in for five years with no electricity. We didn’t want it to be that way. Our goal was to complete it in one year, but unexpected pitfalls and difficulties put us in a difficult predicament. Instead of giving up or walking away, we faced the challenge. Now, we live in that two-story home,  and I often look at the walls and remember how they felt when they were empty, without drywall. We all lived and slept in one room together as we worked the construction phase.

The history and depth of emotion that we shared as a family while entrenched in these difficult times are what drives me to appreciate life. We finished the build, we filled the home, and today we look back with memories that helped us to build personal character and perseverance. I’ve told the story from every angle and every direction because it shows the value of the journey toward success.

My black belt would mean nothing to me if not for my martial art journey. There are so many highlights and stories that I could share about how it made me a strong and capable woman. I am who I am today because of it. Many times during that journey I questioned myself. I asked if I was smart enough, brave enough, or skilled enough to ever be a black belt. I had ups and downs in training, and fears and anxieties about moving forward. Others passed me in their rank who started after I did. I struggled with scheduling and getting to class. I shied away from sparring and I didn’t want to be called out to demonstrate.

Yet, I achieved. For every negative thought above, I eventually found its counterpart. There were times when I completely believed in myself. Many answers flowed forth effortlessly. Often, I felt in control and empowered.  The journey justified the goal.

Have you assessed your journey? I am not referring necessarily to your goals and ambitions, but the mother of all journeys – your life. Building a house and earning a black belt are journeys that are part of a much bigger experience. Wherever you are in your life, think of the various journeys you have taken. If they led you to what you perceive as success,  how did you do it? It is a blueprint to follow. If the journeys ended unexpectedly or had no merit, why did they end that way? How can you change your direction in order to change your result?

Are you headed in the right direction? Only you can answer that. I can speculate along with all the others, but only you know if your life makes sense. Make an effort if it is success that you desire. But, not just effort. Believe in it. Follow it. Finish it.

I’ve answered a lot of questions in my lifetime, including questions from my children, friends, or peers. I’ve shared my advice and my perspective. The biggest question I have had to face, however, has never been asked from any of them. I have to face that particular question on my own. Where exactly am I headed?

I’ll never be absolutely certain because of all the twists and turns in life.  I’m going to live my life as a journey and continue to travel forward unless something propels me backwards. Then, I will try another route. One way or another I will get to where I am supposed to go. My destination is undetermined, yet I am determined to find it.

Travel your path with the utmost confidence and ambition, and make adjustments when necessary. The most important thing to remember is that there are plenty of options and paths to choose. Many of them can be right for you, so pick one and get started. There is nothing wrong with having several good options and choosing to start with one to see where it leads. You can always pick another or change direction. Successful people are successful because they do not give up on their dreams. If they make mistakes, they fix them and move on. They don’t evaluate life as a success or a failure, but simply a personal journey that is unique to who they are.

I will read again all of the responses on social media about personal success. I may find some new ideas there. The rule of thumb is that no success is set in stone. There is no right or wrong. Ask yourself the right questions, and everything will fall into place as it is meant to be.


My new book, The Martial Arts Woman, is now available. Purchase through my e-commerce store:

The Martial Arts Woman shares the stories and insights of more than twenty-five women in the martial arts, and how they apply martial arts to their lives. Unlike most other martial art books, the reader will catch a glimpse into the brave and empowered woman who dares to be all that she can be. Many of these women had to overcome great societal or personal challenges to break into the men’s world of martial arts. This book will motivate and inspire you to go after your goals in life and to fight through every challenge and defeat every obstacle. The Martial Arts Woman will open your eyes to the power of the human spirit and the martial art mindset that dwells in each of us!


Andrea F. Harkins is a  writer, motivator, life coach, martial artist, and public speaker. Her book, The Martial Arts Woman, is now available at or on Amazon!

Andrea is Internationally known for her positivity through martial arts efforts and outreach, and her writing. She is currently a contributor for Think Positive Magazine, as well as a columnist for Martial Arts Illustrated UK, The Martial Arts Guardian (UK), the World Martial Arts Magazine, MASUCCESS, Conflict Manager, Martial Arts Business (Australia), The Parrish Village News, and her blog, The Martial Arts Woman.  Contact her for information on public speaking, autographs, and life coaching.



7 thoughts on “Are You Headed in the Right Direction?

  1. Andrea, you totally amaze me with your family life and the sacrifices you have made. I know your struggles were your choice just as my struggles were the way my husband and I chose to live our lives with our children. The example we set for our children was established and we are married nearly 47 years. Our children are grown and they can’t understand the sacrifices we made for them and how we did what we did. They have to stick to the rules and they are struggling with the choices they are making for their children. But we tell them they must have trust and faith. That’s all they need. And they get distracted by wants and needs. Thank you for sharing your struggles and I get to share mine. I hope it helps to listen to other people. You just have a way of drawing out other peoples thoughts.

  2. Hey kiddo!

    How’s everything? Reading this post is very timely because I’m facing that road of the unknown. I’ve asked myself where I went wrong. It’s tough not to entertain the idea that I might have failed in some way and that’s why I’m having to go through this situation. But, like you said, if I feel as if I made a mistake, I’m going to have to assess the situation and be willing to start again in a different way. This post helps me put things in perspective because within six months I’ll have reached the big 40. It doesn’t even seem like it. But, we have to take life as it comes. Thank you again for everything! 🙂

  3. Thank you for this post, and for the good advice in your book. I’m not done reading it yet, but it has helped me make sense of a big mountain in my life. Failing my Sandan test was just the last straw and I have been trying to work through feelings and situations since November. I’ve lost my Path, my beginners mind and have struggled to find them again. I think now I might be “headed in the right direction.”

    1. From the sound of your response, I would say you are heading in the right direction. Not every test is meant to be passed. There are reasons for struggles, although it is difficult to see at the time. Thank you for your comment!

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