View detours as challenges, not excuses

Whether you write down your goals, or just know what you need to do each day, life has a way of interrupting sometimes.

Detour Ahead signIt doesn’t matter if it’s writing, career, fitness, financial, or any other category — detours can, and generally do, happen to even the most successful people.

The challenge is to stay focused and see the interruptions and setbacks for what they are – delays – and not as excuses for giving up.

It can be especially difficult when you see your goal ahead to be waylaid by life, but if everything were simple, everyone would be doing it all, right?

Maybe we can’t always move forward as fast as we want, but we can always be determined to reach the goal, no matter what.

Some tips:

  • Keep in mind that the only way to fail is to quit. Honest. If you keep trying, you’re not failing.
  • Life happens – interruptions and setbacks are part of life. Accept this as you do the fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.
  • View the setbacks as a detour – I see them as orange pylons put in front of me on a straight road – the detour could be short and sweet or long and meandering, but it’s still just a detour.
  • Realize that your endpoint hasn’t moved, you have — adjust course to keep going.
  • Stay focused on your goals and keep working. You’ll get there.

End Detour sign

When life interrupts your plan to reach your goal, how do you react? Do you realize right away that it’s just a detour? Can you get yourself back on course right away?

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa J. Jackson is a New England-region journalist and a year-round chocolate and iced coffee lover. She does her best to take her own advice when she needs it. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom. Connect with her on Facebook or see what she tweets about as @lisajjackson on Twitter. 

18 thoughts on “View detours as challenges, not excuses

  1. This week has been a major detour for me. I have to have hernia repair surgery. I normally write on a Sunday afternoon but this weekend that was a painful suggestion so I just had to skip it this week.

    I find that the interruption is annoying but it is also filled with opportunity – a new road opens up, I learn new things, and in the end there will be new stories to tell. Often I find the detour to be more informative than the trip I planned.

    So this week, while I didn’t get to write my normal blog post, I did have a nice long visit with a friend and he reminded me of the story about my father having this surgery.

    Well, there is enough material for two blog posts.

    Try to embrace life and whatever detour it throws at you.

  2. You are so right, we can see an obstacle as the excuse to give up but it can also be the incentive to carry on despite it. Case in point my very first NaNoWriMo had me scared to death (I had only written very short pieces prior to it) but with the generous support of my writing circle friends, I was determined to do my best. After all it is the personal challenge aspect that has so many people signing up. So my laptop literally became a part of my life from morning to night. At soccer practice, gymnastics classes, feverish evenings typing like a thing possessed…every spare minute I was engaged in my story and I did succeed. So yes whatever detour may come your way push through it and never lose sight of your goal.

    • There is quite a power with NaNoWriMo when you truly embrace the challenge. I continue to wish I could write every month the way I do when I’m committed to the November challenge.

      Congrats on crossing the finish line – I know how great it feels. 🙂

      Thank you for sharing with us!

  3. Great reminder, Lisa. Do I recognize the roadblock for what it is? I usually kick and scream like a baby until I’m exhausted, then have myself a good laugh, wash my face, and get on with it.

    • Deb – I got a great laugh from your comment. I think I’ve reacted that way a time or two. In the midst of kicking and screaming is generally when the ‘ah ha’ moment comes along (light bulb illuminating the positives). That’s when I laugh, thank the universe for delivering the opportunity, more laughing at how I must have looked while kicking and screaming, and then I get on with the project. 🙂 (I always hope I don’t have moments like this in public!)

  4. I’m really working at focusing on my book right now –mowing over those orange pylons one by one. Actually, I’m having to retype all the chapters, which is no fun. But I can rewrite as I go. I certainly credit all of you for helping get back on track. Thanks!

  5. Thank you Lisa. I have come to think of the detours as something extra I need to learn to achieve the my final goal. I’ve had a few and didn’t realise I had to learn so much. 🙂 It was wonderful to read your positive words too. Thank you again.

  6. I don’t see the point in beating yourself over the head when life gets in the way. Writing is one of those things that sets its own pace, no matter how much you try to control it. You can be committed to the process only, and the process of producing art is unique to each piece of work. Each character, each setting, details of every story or novel has stops and starts. Sometimes you get lost and don’t know where you’re going for a time. Eventually, you’ll reach your destination, I tell myself. During the worst times, when I’m at a standstill, I see it as an opportunity to stay still for a moment, take a writerly breath, meditate and wait for the muse to speak. Or, do some laundry or take a walk or…
    But never, ever beat yourself over the head for going off course. Doesn’t that interfere with the whole process of writing, making it worse instead of better? You can’t force it. Sometimes the detour is the very thing you need. You’ll see something you didn’t expect, become refreshed. It might even shorten the time it takes to reach your destination! 🙂

  7. Detours can also be terribly educational and serve as learning experiences in themselves, as I’m sure you know, LisaJJ!
    In 2009, I took a relatively long drive alone to Yosemite Nat’l Park. The weather was difficult-first detour-since it rained and snowed the entire way. I made my mind up to enjoy the beauty since I live in a quite dry area.
    The next detour was by chance-on the highway I saw a wandering golden retriever, passed it, then turned back to see if I could help. Far down the road I saw the dog trot down a dirt driveway, I followed. Obviously the house at the end of the little road was the owner’s. I parked, got out, and called out to an open window, “You ought to keep a better eye on your dog-I almost hit him out on the road!”
    After a while, a woman came to the front door and thanked me profusely for bringing “Max” back-which, of course, I did not-but she was so enthusiastic that I accepted her thanks. She then asked me in for tea and we became fast friends.
    I have never seen this woman again, but our encounter taught me much about life’s detours!

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