When the Way Forward Isn’t Clear

While I like to think I’m a rather patient person, I admit detours are not my favorite thing. Whether they are on the road, or in my business it’s frustrating to find my pre-planned path blocked.

Can you relate? You know where you’re headed, you have a plan to get there…but the way forward is no longer clear. Perhaps it’s unexpected expenses, navigating staff changes or sweeping changes in your industry. Maybe it’s even a global pandemic! Whatever it is, you’ve found yourself at a place where you can’t move forward the way you planned. You are forced to reroute and find a new way.

This year has been one of unexpected detours in my business. That 2020 business plan we wrote last year? Well, it’s been revised so many times now that it looks nothing like the original. Our destination hasn’t changed, but we needed to find a new way to get there. We’ve had to adapt, learn new things, dig deep, and most of all keep moving forward with what clarity we did or did not have in the moment.

Along the way, I found myself revisiting three simple questions to avoid overwhelm and stay on mission. Perhaps they’ll help you, too?

Get clarity with these simple questions

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and perceive the issue as larger than it may actually be. So, take stock of where you are and get really clear on what is true and what is not. 

  • Where has your path been blocked, and what does that affect? 
  • Has your destination changed? What is still true? What has shifted? 
  • What resources do you have available to you as you move forward? What other resources might you need?

Chart a new path

If our mission is still true – if our destination has not changed, then it’s important to find a new way to reach it. Where do we go from here?

Seeking the wisdom of others is important – do you have a few trusted advisors who can help you process through this detour and share their insights? Perhaps you have a coach who can help you see it from different angles and evaluate options? Invite your team into the conversation when possible and draw on their collective wisdom and creativity. You don’t have to figure out everything right now, but finding clarity on even the next few steps is crucial.

Move forward

It’s a challenge to move forward when we don’t have full clarity on exactly how we’ll reach our destination. I’ve been in that place more times than I care to count and it can be crippling! But what I’ve experienced to be equally true is that when we fail to move forward, we stagnate. We become irrelevant, our staff disengages or even leaves, new innovation is non-existent, and we slowly die. Survival mode is not a viable long-term option if we want to fulfill our mission. 

So, it’s time to step forward, regardless of how much or how little clarity you feel like you have. Walk your team through what you’ve processed and give them as much clarity as you can on the next step. Engage them in the process of moving forward, adjusting course, and reaching towards your destination once again. Our teams can handle more uncertainty than we think if there is clarity around our ultimate destination. Clarity trumps certainty.

What is one step you can take today?

Do you need to find clarity in an unexpected season of change, disruption or crisis? 

  • Set aside some time to define what it is you’re facing. 
  • Maybe you already know exactly what you’re up against and need to begin charting a new path. 
  • Possibly you already know what your next step should be and it’s time to step forward into it.

Wherever you are in this process, dear leader, be encouraged – detours are never dead ends, and crisis does not prevent clarity. What is your one step today? I’d love to hear it – comment below!

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Jasmine Crandall

With decades of experience in large corporations and small organizations, non-profit ministries and for-profit start-ups spanning multiple industries, Jasmine Crandall is a Life & Leadership Coach who now works with business owners and organizational leaders to help them gain clarity, overcome overwhelm, uncover their unique purpose, and move forward in confidence in both life and leadership. She lives a simple but abundant life in rural Wisconsin on a small farmstead with her husband and two pups. Want to learn more? Visit www.jasminecrandall.com for additional leadership resources, or to connect with Jasmine!

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