During the pandemic shelter-in-place order, I found myself needing to find a way to mix up my exercise. Usually, I join a Peloton spin class for cardio and I also lift weights. As winter gave way to spring, the idea of more outdoor time was very appealing. The most difficult adjustment was not the walking of five miles, but it was finding the right path that provided five miles of cardio without walking in circles. Finally, I found a good route, but to get my five miles in, it required me to take one loop off the main path. The secondary path was crucial for me to hit my goal distance, but it worked out so well because it added a shady detour of an extra mile and ended back on the main path.

Our career can be like that, too, especially in unprecedented times. We think we are heading along a path that will help us meet our goals, but then, often times to no fault of our own, we find our current path just won’t get us where we intended to go. Rarely is a career a straight line. There are twists and turns and detours we take to reach our ultimate goals.

Job elimination may cause us to take a secondary path until we can get back to our main route. We might have to take a small detour to obtain more education, add skills to our capabilities or gain an experience needed for our next opportunity. Whatever the case is, recognize that the secondary path is not an impediment to the journey, but instead,  the way forward achieve your goals.

There are 3 things you can do to crush your career detour:

  1. Keep moving. Don’t let a detour discourage you. It may not have been part of your plan, but it is part of a bigger plan for your career and life, so just keep going. Learn resiliency through the challenges and you will be better prepared for future challenges.
  2. Keep Learning. A detour is the perfect place to learn something new, possibly unrelated to your current career. Take an on-line class, watch TED talks or sign up for a Master Class subscription. These practices help you grow and they might even lead you to a new path.
  3. Keep in Touch. Especially in these days, it’s easy to become disconnected with people. Network with people you meet on your detour and don’t forget to maintain relationships from past experiences. Along the detour, these relationships will hep you navigate the path and at some point, when the detour leads you back to a main path, your relationships will help you re-enter.

Additionally, remember that you are not alone. At this very moment, millions of people are experiencing a detour. Accept help when offered, ask when help is needed and help others when you can.  Don’t become overwhelmed by your detour. Your path may seem blocked at the moment, but if you keep going, another one will rise up to meet you.