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Getting back on track after you've been derailed

"What's enabled you to continue making progress on your work with everything else going on?"

"railroad" by ~Pawsitive~Candie_N

A colleague recently asked me this question, as she was struggling to juggle her personal needs along with her professional pursuits. She was finally getting her energy back after falling ill with COVID 4 months ago. At the same time, she was finishing up a certification program and running a startup - both of which she felt she had fallen woefully behind on.

As she shared her story, I instantly had a flashback to 4 years ago. I was in the early stages of writing my first book. Seven people had signed up to be co-creators and I had promised them an in-person mastermind program as part of the experience. The weekend before the group's first meeting, I fell ill with the flu.

I was miserably sick. And my inner critic was having a field day as I started to wonder if maybe this was a sign that I should give up on writing A Misfit Entrepreneur's Guide to Building a Business Your Way. I was so convinced that my getting sick was a bad omen I was ready to quit.

But then, I had these co-creators. They had already paid me. And I had given them my word. I couldn't quit, it wasn't fair to them.

I had no choice but to persevere! 

But it's hard to get back into the swing of things when you've fallen out of sync. I felt so far from my flow state, it was as though the wheels in my mind and body were so caked with mud and debris they couldn't spin at all. 

There was only one way I was going to get back on track, I had to turn to my habits for focusing my attention. For me, that always starts with journaling. Sitting down, getting my thoughts out of my head, processing my feelings, and setting my intentions. 

Journaling helps me to gauge my perspective so I can consciously shift the story I'm telling myself. So instead of feeling like my illness was a bad omen, I decided it was an invitation to slow down and take stock of what really mattered in my life. And it turned out that writing this book was even more important to me because setbacks happen to all of us; this was a chance for me to model navigating my path forward when life doesn't go according to plan.

Journaling enables me to break down the problem I am facing into manageable chunks. Getting the flu threw a wrench into my plans, especially as it turned into bronchitis. My road to recovery was slow going. Luckily, experience had taught me that I did not need to do all the work right away, I just needed to do a little bit every day (even if only for 15 minutes). 

Journaling creates forward momentum. It's a way to jump-start my mind so my focus and attention are on what matters most. Not only does journaling help me shift from stalled out to re-engaged, it also ensures I re-engage in the right ways. Part of the right way for me to engage in such pursuits is with an openness to learning and growing.

Using my journal as a place to reflect and be in a continuous cycle of learning from my experiences is a big part of what makes it such a powerful habit for getting back on track when I've been derailed. 

It's safe to say that we've all been a bit derailed this year. It could be due to falling ill or trying to work remotely while homeschooling, or losing out on business opportunities due to the pandemic (or possibly all three).

As we gear up for the fall and a most unusual back-to-school season, each of us has to figure out how to get back on track. What makes that even harder is that the track is unlikely to look the same as it did before.

Falling ill with the flu when I started writing my book was the first thing that derailed me during that time. The second was when my mother-in-law was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer less than 5 months later as I was editing the manuscript. My world (and the primary support system for our family) was turned upside-down. Again, I doubted and questioned, does this work even matter? Clearly, the answer that emerged from my journals was "Yes!"

I encourage you to ask yourself this question too. Does your work matter enough to get back on track even though 2020 has derailed you? There's still time left in this year to make a difference! Take a step towards getting back on track, signup for the next Journal Jam on August 10th to create habits and routines so you can thrive despite everything that's happened this year.

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