You know how it goes – you’ve set your path and can see exactly where you are going. You’ve carefully planned each step and after a fair amount of scrutinizing and strategizing, it couldn’t be more clear. Your beautifully crafted path is blooming with radiant flowers as you enjoy the results of your efforts. Times seem pretty good. And then suddenly, you see it - a darn detour.
Like many of us, I’ve encountered my share of detours. We get attached to our pathways and assume they will remain well-lit and in-tact, leading us where we want to go. When that path suddenly becomes dark and a brick wall appears, and instead of all those lovely flowers all we see are dandelions, we sure don’t like it. We resist – this wasn’t supposed to happen! I didn’t ask for dandelions – a bunch of weeds! But there it is – plain as the dirt – a road block with no warning.
My most recent detour was discovering that my full-time job was being dissolved. Not uncommon. Not a complete side-swipe. Not the absolute worst thing to happen since I’ve always maintained a private practice, but a jolt none the less.
So what did I do?
1) I immediately started filling my extra time with other plans. For instance, I scheduled coffee with friends and colleagues to network, brainstorm or simply connect to get some positive energy flowing.
2) I explored volunteer opportunities and offered my time to assist with relevant projects and presentations to keep myself plugged into meaningful work, such as mentoring.
4) I got focused with a professional coach I was already working with to help me focus on my goals, aligning my next professional steps with my personal values.
5) And most importantly, once removed from the day to day grind, I got some clarity.
First, I realized that those dandelions aren’t just a bunch of useless weeds. They actually possess quite a few health benefits - necessary vitamins and nutrients, all of which we can draw from for strength as we embark on a new journey.
I discovered that the sudden free time was a gift for me to devote more energy to my private psychotherapy, coaching and consultation practice. Helping people bounce back from unexpected circumstances is a passion that I want to nurture more fully.
Rather than clinging to what I thought was supposed to be, I began envisioning what else could be. The book Hope for the Flowers, recommended to me by a fellow Toastmaster, teaches us that you don’t have to do what all the other caterpillars are blindly doing. You don’t even have to remain a caterpillar! That’s not your final full potential. You can become a butterfly and have a lot more range and flexibility with those wings. It may feel weird, even scary, but it can also be exciting, rejuvenating and freeing.
Who knows what will unfold, but we will never know until we give another path a try. Detours may derail us, but then those dandelions can help us find our way – and our wings.