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Earlier this year, I went on a walkabout in Sequoia National Park. I spent one week wandering off trail in the backcountry, questing for a deeper experience of connection to nature and trust in myself. I walked only as far as the land would support, subsisting solely on the food that I could forage and the energy that I could summon to walk deeper into the truths about my life that were being reflected by the natural world around me.

Upon returning to my life and work in Berkeley, I committed to spending one day each month on walkabout in the hills surrounding the Bay Area. My intention was, and still is, to maintain my connection to nature, myself, and the universal energy that moves in all things. I know that nature is an unending source of inspiration and insight, always available to anyone willing to listen. Still, without a date blocked out on my calendar, I end up looking out the window at nature instead of looking at my authentic self in nature.

The most meaningful insight from my latest walkabout presented itself before I even set foot on the trail. Driving through the Oakland hills, I found myself getting increasingly suspicious of the clear and well-researched directions with every sweeping curve of the road that continued longer than my patience.

Assuming that I missed the turnoff, I stopped, checked the map and directions again, turned around and drove back the way I came for a few minutes. I didn’t see any possible turnoffs that I could have missed so I turned back around again and kept going further into the hills. A few minutes later, I was sure that I was going in the wrong direction and getting more frustrated with every turn. I noticed myself fantasizing about the hike in West Marin that I decided not to take, questioning my selection of this trail in Oakland, and wondering how I could salvage my day.

The next pullout was the trailhead. Humbled by my skittishness but relieved nonetheless, I stumbled out of the car through the parking lot of my frustration and onto the trail.

As I walked, I reflected on my experience of getting there…

I realized that especially when I am in a new and unfamiliar place, I would do well to give myself a little bit of extra room to explore. Doing so would take the pressure off and make the journey more enjoyable.

I also learned that if I had stopped short before fully exploring the path I was on, I would have missed what turned out to be a beautiful walkabout in one of the few redwood forests in the East Bay. For the rest of the day, I was rewarded with more beauty, stillness and connection, every time that I urged myself to wander a little farther from the trail into the heart of the forest.

Don’t stop short. Continue exploring.

How does this insight from my walkabout apply to your life and career?

As a career coach, I can’t help but attempt to translate my experiences into something growth producing. The biggest application that I see for anyone reading this article is as a reminder to be open to exploring. Most people are quick to rule out a potential career path or a new direction in their current career because something early on in their exploration doesn’t meet their expectations. When it falls short, they stop short.

But… How do you know that the path you are exploring (or considering) is the wrong path? How do you know that it won’t lead you to A Path That Fits further down the road?

My clients often find their path by exploring one opportunity that reveals a previously unforeseeable path that then becomes their new career. It isn’t possible to see all of the paths that await you further down the trail while you are still standing in the parking lot. Sometimes you have to trust your initial calling and continue exploring through your doubts before you can find A Path That Fits.

Don’t stop short. Continue exploring. Who knows what you will find?


– Adrian Klaphaak,

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