The Processionary Caterpillar
What are You Doing with Your Life?
by Dexter Faulkner
Have you ever heard of the processionary caterpillar? These little creatures move through the trees in long, train-like processions. One leads, and the others follow, each with sad eyes half closed and its head snugly fitted against the rear extremity of the caterpillar in front of it.
They're quite a sight to see!
French naturalist Jean Henri Fabre, after hours of patiently experimenting with a line of processionary caterpillars, finally enticed them onto the rim of a large flowerpot. He got the first caterpillar in the line to follow the last one, thus forming a complete circle.
Mr.Fabre expected them to soon catch on to the trick, get tired of their useless marching and veer off in some new direction.
Not so! Through sheer force of habit, the living, crawling circle kept moving around the edge of the pot. Around and around, those caterpillars kept the same merciless pace for a full week, day and night.
They no doubt would have continued longer, had it not been for utter exhaustion and final starvation. There was ample food close at hand and plainly visible, but outside the range of the circle, and the caterpillars refused to abandon the well-beaten path.
These little fellows were doing there thing, loyally but blindly following instinct and habit, right up to the end.
What was the caterpillar's mistake? They mistook activity for accomplishment. They surely meant well, but they got nowhere.
By the way: Do you have a goal? What kinds of goals do you have?
We all need goals. Ask yourself: Why is it that some people seem to get more done than others? Don't we all have the same amount of time?
The difference often is that successful people have set their long- and short-term goals.
A person without goals can only look back on a lifetime of mundane activities: 20 years sleeping, 5 years dressing and grooming, 3 years waiting on others, 1 year on the telephone, 4 months tying his or her shoelaces, and 6 years watching television.
Get the picture? Without goals, the routines of life become the ruts of life! As Proverbs 16:9 says: "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines the steps" (NIV).
Ready for a dare? I dare you to make a list of goals. Then plan, between you and God, how to accomplish them.
First, decide what you are going to do. Second, decide what you are not going to do. Sound simple?
What do you really want most to do? Let's be practical: Next week is a definable chunk of your life, so think about what to do next week to move yourself toward your overall life goals.
Your top priorities should probably lie in three areas: God and family, school and your future. So make a list of goals -- at least 5 things you want to achieve -- in each of these areas. Be specific and realistic. Seek advice from your parents, teachers and, most important, God. Be flexible, framing your goals to avoid unnecessary conflict with the goals of family and friends.
You might decide to spend more time with your parents, maybe writing them a thank-you note for nice things they have done for you.
What about school? How about that special report you've been putting off? Make it your goal to finish it. Life goals? How about seeing your career counsellor this week?
Of course, goals are of no use unless you act on them. So act! Don't be too rough on yourself. You can't suddenly make brown eyes blue or become a genius overnight! But you can develop a more positive attitude toward your goals. Keep trying. Review your progress regularly. Remember: God will help you, so don't forget to ask Him.
The first two letters of the word goal spell go. Go right now and and write down some things you want to accomplish, and when you have achieved a goal or two, write in to us and tell us about it. We will be interested, because it will mean growth in some area in your life. You'll be building character.
I dare you! Don't spend the rest of your life going around in circles.
This page was created on 15 April 1998
Last updated on 15 April 1998
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