Driving along the highway early one morning on my way to a speaking engagement, I came upon a large sign:
My first reaction was a big sigh and a little muttering under my breath.
That created enough time for my inner committee to call a meeting in my head, and as usual it had a lot to say:
How long is this going to take?
I can’t be late.
Where the heck are we going?
This is a big pain in the neck.
And on and on.
Fortunately there is a least one of those committee members who eventually pipes up and tries to shift my focus.
I hope no one was hurt.
In the big scheme of things, this is not a big deal.
There are lots of detours in life. Small ones like traffic jams and a seasonal cold. Big ones like major illnesses, a job loss or a relationship breakdown. I call it the natural chaos of life. Detours are to be expected. They just happen unexpectedly. They almost always seem very inconvenient.
How we manage those detours in life is no different than managing the one I came across on the highway. Just because one road closes doesn’t mean that there isn’t a path to where you want to go. It just might not look like the one you had planned.
Here are some suggestions when you come across a detour in life:
Manage your inner committee.
There is always a conversation going on in your head. Take charge of it. Otherwise you will find yourself annoyed, frustrated, afraid, pessimistic, or discouraged. The circumstances are simply the circumstances. How you decide to view them determines your experience of them. If the inner committee conversation is not helpful, make a shift and start a different conversation that focuses on something more productive or positive.
Follow the signs.
When you come upon a detour, there are signs that point you in the right direction. In life they likely don’t have a big arrow directing you one way. The signs you need to follow are more subtle – your intuition, your past successes, your inner coach. Create a quiet space so you can see or hear the signs more clearly.
Because you are not sure exactly where you are going, a detour makes you focus more intently. You don’t want to miss the next sign so you are watching for it. When life brings you a detour, pay more attention to what is going on. Stop multitasking. Breathe. Be present in the moment.
Get back on your path.
Just because you hit a detour doesn’t mean you have to change your destination. Your goal is to get back on track as quickly and efficiently as possible. Surprisingly a detour often opens up a new path that you hadn’t considered previously. Be willing to change course if it ultimately serves you.
Stop asking why.
There’s probably one committee member who keeps asking why.
Why is this happening to me?
Just like in a road detour, the answer to why this is happening is not that important. We might be curious but that information doesn’t help us get back on track. That question can actually cause further distractions which delay you moving forward. You focus on the why instead of the how or what’s next. Ultimately why isn’t so important unless you caused the detour. Then you might want to know why so you don’t do it again. Since most of life’s detours are random events, continually asking why becomes just another detour.
Here’s one final thought. Detours are going to happen. Guaranteed. So leave enough space in your life to accommodate them. Don’t jam your day so full that you are constantly running from one thing to the next.
In the end I eventually got back on the highway after a scenic tour through the back roads. Fortunately I had left home early enough so that I wasn’t late for the event in spite of the detour. And best of all I got a great idea for an article.
Please post a comment and share:
What was your last detour in life and what helped you get back on track?