Keeping Your Orientation – In Life and Work (Avoiding Unnecessary Missteps)

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  • By Michele Howe.

    Taking a misstep here would be fatal.

    Taking a misstep in daily life happens more often than we realize (with perhaps not fatal results, but otherwise unhealthy ones.)


    It’s so easy to lose our focus (lose our orientation) because of the demands placed on us by others (and ourselves.)

    Keeping your orientation is one principle that crosses over into every area of life.

    Home. Work. Health. Play.

    Not convinced?

    See how this phrase, “Keeping Your Orientation” put me on notice after a fast-paced morning in the operating room.

    Not too long ago, I was given the opportunity to observe a shoulder surgery operation. While the entire morning was riveting, I keep recalling one specific step the surgeon performed at the outset of the procedure. Before the doctor could begin to repair his patient’s injured shoulder, he needed to correctly identify and mark the places on her body where he would make the necessary cuts. As he carefully felt around her shoulder, I later found out he used her bony anatomy to “keep his orientation.”

    Interesting phrase, and what a great parallel to everyday life.

    As busy adults, we’re frequently sidetracked from our main purposes because we have lost our orientation.

    That is, we become so bombarded by overwork, busyness, and the stresses that deplete our emotional and physical reserves, that we lose sight of what’s most important. Our visual clarity becomes blurred, we grow unsure of what’s the next best step to take, and we grow so desperate for relief we end up simply living in survival mode.

    Said another way, when we’ve lost our primary focus, we often relegate our decision-making to whatever’s easiest, closest at hand, or requires the least amount of resistance. Which, over time, can quickly become problematic on multiple levels.

    In the same way a surgeon takes the necessary time to deliberately study his patient’s injuries, illnesses and weaknesses before carefully mapping out his plan to correct, so should we similarly take the needed time to plan our days, weeks, and months (to ensure optimal home, work, health, and play environments.)  Staying on task (while moving toward our main objectives) grows simpler when we routinely keep an eye balanced between today’s immediate responsibilities and tomorrow’s more flexible expectations (and we make adjustments accordingly).

    Keeping Your Orientation in Three Easy Steps (So as not to misstep)

    Take a brief glance to the month ahead – know what’s coming, but don’t spend too much time mulling over the details.

    Keep an eye on the week ahead – make it a habit to do a cursory review of the next seven days at the beginning of every week, then issue verbal/written reminders to each family member.

    Pay careful attention to the following day – every night before bed make all necessary practical preparations for the smoothest possible transition into a new day.

    Michele Howe

    Michele is the author of fourteen books for women and has published over 2000 articles, reviews, and curriculum to more than 100 different publications. Her articles and reviews have been published in Good Housekeeping, First For Women, Single Parent Family, Christian Single, and many other publications. Michele’s single parenting titles include Going It Alone and Still Going It Alone. After having undergone six shoulder surgeries, Michele saw the need for a women’s inspirational health-related book co-authored with her orthopedic surgeon titled, Burdens Do a Body Good: Meeting Life’s Challenges with Strength (and Soul), released in 2010 and from which Prescription for Life, their health, medical and surgical informational book is based. One Size Fits All: Making Healthy Choices, Stepping Into a Meaningful Life, a women's health/inspirational devotional by Lighthouse of the Carolinas was released late 2012 and Faith, Friends, and Other Floatation Devices will be published in 2013 by ACTA Publications. Michele's newest release is Burden Lifters: Every Woman's Daily Guide to a Healthy Happy Life, published by Bondfire Books. Read more of Michele's work at and contact Michele at:

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    1. Marcelina Hardy
      Marcelina Hardy says:

      LOVE this – keep your eyes on the future and keep moving. That’s my way of life and keeps me going. Thank you for the great refresher. 🙂


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