Waiting for my car repairs, I had some time on my hands. Luckily, the body shop had a few decent magazines to read. After thumbing through the pages, my eyes caught the title, “How Long Are Your Dashes? Briefly, I asked myself if this was a sports magazine with an article on high school or college sprints and dash competitions?

Not so. I came to find out that it was about driving safety and perception.

This article had been taken from ScienceDaly, Feb. 2009, asking its readers to guess how long are the dashed lines painted down the middle of the road. The article went on to say that if the reader thought they were 2-3 feet in length that he would be among the majority. When in actuality, according to the Federal guidelines for each street, highway and rural road in the U.S., they are 10 feet with 30 feet in between them. (Excludes Chicago & varies from state to state)

The objective was to point out what our perception is of something. In this case, while in a moving vehicle.

This is one of those stories I decided could be used as a metaphor for life. Here we’ve been driving these surfaces since we attained our license and most of us think that the lines are a mere 2-3 feet. It got me to think what other things do I misjudge in life? What else am I not seeing that’s right there in front of me?

To help apply this concept to your life, I’ve supplied the Wheel of Life, an standard Life Coaching tool when beginning with a new client.

wheel of life

Let’s face it we’ve all been blind-sided by something in life; a medical diagnosis, news about friends or family, a tweak in our income, a vacation suddenly being canceled. We’ve all had “something” turn out differently than what we had hoped for.

How, though, can we prepare ourselves better when we think one way and life shows us otherwise?

Research or Reviewing the Facts

As a broker in Real Estate my client was a young couple who were purchasing their first home. They seemed rather knowledgeable, having cited various magazine articles, weighing in or out on their parents’ advice and so on. I had reviewed the contract with both of them, but it was the wife who was the only one available to sign it. Some days after the acceptance we went through the final walk-through as was customary. “Mrs. Buyer” noticed that the oven-range was missing. I suggested looking at the contract which we both had with us. There is was missing from the contract. I remember going through the paragraph with them. She was quite upset stating that she was certain that it was included in the personal property which would be left. She called her husband and he agreed that they had no right to get the oven-range. She couldn’t understand how she had missed such an important item.

When we become stressed we become confused and we don’t remember things as they really are. Think of when you’re driving, is there many chances you would take a good hard look at the yellow lanes and estimate how long they are?

And so it is with our lives. To use a phrase, “We dash here, we dash there! How many dashes do you make in a day?

How much time do you allow for each space between dashes? How much cushion time do you give yourself in between going here or there?

And as if that’s all you have to do all day, how do you process your emotions should there be something out of the ordinary happen that day…positive or negative!

So the lines on our roads are there for a reason. They are designed to keep traffic at a measured pace and they help determine what distance we need to keep from the guy in front of us. They also help to direct where we go at intersections and entrances.

What will you do to keep yourself at a measured pace, help determine the distance you can go today (think energy) and what direction you’re headed in? As the Department of Transportation suggests, “How Long Are Your Dashes?”

Taken from materials provided by Ohio State University – Shaffer, Maynor & Roy. The visual perception of lines on the road, Perception & Psychophysics, 2008