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Learning to Zigzag

Aug 17, 2007
On a trip last year, we drove down many back roads and winding country lanes, often not entirely sure where we would end up. The joy was in the exploration and the journey, not in arriving at the destination. It struck me that we are often willing when on vacation to put the roadmap aside and just explore. We discover charming towns and hidden beauties as we just follow the road wherever it leads, enjoying the journey, living moment to moment.

This spirit of exploration made me think about how we typically limit ourselves in our lives. I wondered where else in my life I took the usual straight and narrow path when it would be more interesting - even more exciting - to follow the road less traveled and take a curious jog on a path I've never seen before. Where would it lead me?

In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, some of us forget that life is not a destination, a deadline, or a single event. Instead, it's a complex, multi-faceted, organic organism, forever changing as new inputs stimulate its shape and character.

Most people act as if their lives follow a neat linear progression. But, in reality, there is no pre-determined pattern to our lives any more.

Just as there are no longer predictable stages to life, so too are there no longer predictable stages to a career or to a business. They follow a much more organic pattern, and it is almost impossible to predict what the actual results or outcomes will be.

Because our lives are constantly changing and evolving, we need to learn to improvise, to be comfortable with where change takes us. To let go of the "known' and take the risk of exploring uncharted territory.

We can learn to "zigzag" by charting our own path in life and business development, our own individual course, while giving ourselves the gift of time to explore and enjoying the scenery along the way. Our life plan or our business plan will be shaped by these experiences, and we may end up somewhere we never expected to be - and loving it.

Ask yourself this question: Where in my life or my business do I most need to step off the linear, well-trodden path, be open to what's right in front of me in the moment, and take a different course of action? Where can I zigzag to reach my ultimate goal so that I enjoy the journey instead of just focusing on reaching the end result?

Take a more experimental, open-minded approach. Consider an out-of-the-box idea that you've never tried before. Improvise, try something new, do something in a way you've never done it before. If that doesn't work, try something else. Be open to learning something new. We learn more from our failures than we do from our successes, so be open to 'failing' - the surest route to innovation and creativity.

If you have a goal to change your business or the work that you do, consider several different ways you could achieve the same outcome. If you own a business, what could you try that you've never done before? How could you innovate and step in a bold new direction?

In reality, it's not the destination that is important. It's getting there, and then starting off in another direction or down another road, relishing every moment of the journey.

Be open to stumbling upon where you're going rather than mapping it out in advance. Notice which of the many opportunities that come your way really appeal to you most. Say yes to those good opportunities that tap into your passion but weren't in your plan.

Take the more interesting path to reach your goals. Step off the well-trodden, predictable path and learn to zigzag. I assure you - you will be well rewarded!
About the Author
Jan Marie Dore, 'The Women Entrepreneurs Success Coach', is a small business coaching expert and the creator of the 'Women Entrepreneurs Small Business Marketing System'. Get free marketing tips, resources, and the workbook at http://www.femalepreneurs.com.
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