Do you remember the first time you went to Disneyland, Disneyworld, or any amusement park for that matter? Given that I was six the first time I went, I don’t think I have any accurate memories of that experience. But I do remember going to amusement parks many times as a child and now as a parent. The days leading up are filled with strategizing. We break out the schedule and the map. Then we make a list of which rides, shows, and other activities we want to experience over the course of the day. Once we have a list we will give thought to which rides are best suited for a “Fast Pass”, which ones we want to hit early, and which ones we will want to do more than once. We will then deconflict with the times of the shows we want to watch. Lots of planning leads up to the time at which we enter the park, which is as close to opening time as we can make happen. As far as I can tell, I am far from alone in the amount of preparation that goes into planning a day at the park.

Why do we do this?

We do this because we want to maximize the experience and get the most enjoyment out of the time we have access to the park. As you might imagine, we don’t stick to the plan but we certainly arrive with one. Throughout the course of the day, we may decide that a ride we once thought was worthy of multiple rides was not. Or we might be made aware of an attraction that didn’t jump out at us in the brochures and do it in favor of something else we planned. We might stay until closing or we might decide we experienced everything we wanted to long before we would have been asked to leave.

As my family and I begin to think about the next move the Navy is asking us to make, we are taking the same approach. Truth is, this is the approach we take with each move. What are the unique opportunities available to us in our new home that geography has prevented us from experiencing previously? Which of our friends and family will be more accessible to us when we move? What are the things we want to see and do in our current home before we see it only in our rearview mirror?

All too often, we go through the motions, letting both time and opportunity pass us by. One of the great things about military life is that it is broken down into 2-3 year increments, conditioning us to be especially aware of both time and opportunity. That said, not everyone responds to the cues that ought to prompt us to make the most of what is and prepare ourselves to make the most of what is next. We have a list of things we want to see before the park closes and are beginning to map out a plan to guide our experience for the move west.

You may not be going to Disneyland anytime soon, but you most certainly are surrounded by opportunity, new experiences, and people that won’t be accessible forever.  Why not pull out that proverbial map and that calendar. The park opens when your eyes do and who knows when it will close. There are no fast passes and you won’t always have access to these things you likely take for granted. Time to see life like the amusement park it was meant to be.

  • What is the next opportunity on your list that you will make it a point to experience?
  • Have you mapped out a path that will ensure you experience all that you want to in life?
  • What opportunities do you keep putting off and will regret not having done if the park was to close right now?