The Inevitable Derailment – Career & Personal
Life is somewhat predictable in that, without fail, it’s unpredictable. We’re cruising along and, inevitably, something knocks us off track. It could be something as minor as catching a cold, or major such as the loss of a loved one. Before your derailment, you feel like everything is going fine. You’re living life, you’ve got an amazing and brag-worthy routine, and you’re basically killin’ it. And then – BAM – you're off the rails.
This happened for me over the summer. A few events coupled with a painful injury not only shook my blissful daily routine, but resulted in a heap of pain. At first, I limped through all of these things, smiling and saying, “Its fine! I’m still on the path!” But, after about 2 months of limping – literal and figurative – I’d blown through the energy resources I had stored up.
It took another two months for me to recover. Part of that recovery was a painful reckoning of reality and part of it was medical intervention for my injury (I.e., knee surgery).
So, here I am on the other side of this reckoning and surgery what I want to tell you is this:
Derailment is part of life.
You get to choose your attitude and acceptance of the inevitable derailment.
Most times, you get to choose the duration of the derailment.
Derailment does not mean the end of your success.
You are not a failure.
When I was a kid, I dreaded road trips with my dad because I was always the person in the car who needed everyone to stop so I could use the restroom. And my dad, being a typical dad, would bemoan how we’re going to be late, and we weren’t making good timing, and couldn’t I please just hold it?
I’d try to hold it for a while, but then I’d need to stop and I’d be so nervous about not being able to stop again for a long time, that I developed a nervous bladder. I would just sit in the car and cry because I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom.
Finally, one day before we left for a short road trip, my dad pulled me aside and said, “Sarah, we can stop on this trip as many times as you want. We’re not in any rush and you don’t need to feel worried.”
I made it further than I ever had without needing to stop, but, I eventually needed a break. We were almost to our destination – about 30 minutes away – and I said, “Dad, I have to go potty.” He said, “Okay, there’s a rest stop in 5 miles. Can you wait until then or should I take this exit?”
We waited for the rest stop and I ran into the facility, did my business, and ran back to the car. The total delay was probably less than 4 minutes. My dad had seen the shame I felt about needing to stop, and he took it away from me. He gave me permission to be a human who has biological needs. That sounds crazy but I think we all put ourselves through this guilt cycle – many times for feeling or needing something that’s completely natural!
You lost a loved one or a job. You got an injury or an illness. Someone you trusted betrayed your trust. Your house or car malfunctioned and now the repairs are going to clear out your account.
All of these things happen.
These things knock us off our path and sometimes they knock us down – hard. These things are like rest stops on our journey. You can be like my dad before his enlightenment and get angry and frustrated and bemoan the delay. Or, you can be like my dad after his enlightenment and recognize that these are normal, human things that happen. You can accept them, adjust your expectations, and give yourself permission to be human.
Life doesn’t go perfectly all the time, but no matter what, we get to choose how we handle our suffering. We always get to choose our attitude. No one can take that away from us. You can berate yourself for “derailing from your goal.”
You can say, “I’m going to take a rest stop.” Take the rest. And then you can get back on the road where you left off, and keep going. Simple.
The keys are:
Know where you’re going.
Know why you’re going there.
Let yourself rest / get off the road when you need to.
Get back on the road when you are ready.
If you need a little help getting through your detour, or need help with your map, let me know. That’s what a coach is for. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (that’s .co, not .com) and we’ll work out your map together!