Why We Walk in Circles

Why We Walk in Circles

What do you think would happen if someone led you to the middle of a wide open field, blindfolded you, and then told you to walk as far as you can in a straight line? I can assure you of one thing: You wouldn’t be able to do it. Researchers have actually studied this and concluded, for reasons they can’t completely explain (experiments ruled out the most logical assumptions), that blindfolded humans tend to walk in circles.

Of course, this all changes as soon as we can see any point of focus like a tree, a mountain, or the North Star. When we see something fixed, we can walk straight. But, when our eyes are covered or when we are only looking down, we begin moving in a more circular pattern even though we believe we are moving in a straight direction.

People walk through life in circles, too. They think they should be making progress, but are frustrated to discover they are getting nowhere or ending up in a place they don’t want to be. This happens because they don’t have a point of focus and they don’t have a clear perspective of where they are headed or who they are becoming. Most of the time they are simply too fixated on their feet and so concerned about taking the next step that they fail to see a point of focus around them.

A year from now, wouldn’t you like to be able to look back and see that you’ve been walking straight? Would you like to avoid another year of walking in circles? Try doing these things:

  • Set your focus. Take some time to consider this question: Who do I want to become? Think more about character, and less about circumstances. What are the qualities that you want to be true about you? Write these down. Taken as a whole, this description is your focal point for your life’s walk.
  • Choose your steps. Look over your list of “becoming” qualities and make a list of 3 to 6 specific, measurable things, you can do during the next year that will help you toward your goal. If you’re serious about change, these should be a bit challenging but achievable. Decide that you will work on these things. Tell someone else about them.
  • Make a signpost. On an index card (or something similar) write down the things you’ve determined to do. Put this in a place where you’ll see it often. Let it be a reminder to keep your eyes focused in the right direction.
  • Send a letter to your future. Go to futureme.org and write an email to the person you hope to be a year from now. Again, focus less on your circumstances and more on your character (the kind of person you want to keep becoming), especially as it affects the relationships around you. This email service will send you this private message on the future date you specify. It will be a good reminder to either keep moving forward, or to get back on track again.

So, if you’re frustrated with the circles you’ve been walking in, look up and fix your eyes on something good. The old adage holds true: If you aim at nothing, you’re bound to hit it every time.


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