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Your Changing Path

Though your route may curve, you can still make your way to your goal.

Recently, a colleague of mine prepared for the announcement of a new service. She created terrific press materials, enlisted her colleagues to help spread the word and arranged for an interview with a local business columnist. She even hired a publicist to review her materials to ensure they would make the desired impact.

She thought she had planned for every contingency, and then a hurricane hit near her city. Her announcement got lost amid the news of the damage caused by the natural disaster. She also felt it was in bad taste to promote her business during this time of turmoil.

No matter how much planning, investigating and research we complete, the unexpected always challenges us. We can't plan for every contingency while growing our businesses. However, we can learn to manage unanticipated events without becoming discouraged.

Don't let change keep you from reaching your dreams. Embrace it as an opportunity to enhance yourself and your business. Begin by building a solid foundation for delivering your products and services, no matter what the circumstances, and:

1. Work in the now. Don't worry about what may happen--look at the reality of your present situation. Commit to and focus on a specific goal. Being clear on what you are in control of relieves frustration. When the unexpected occurs and forces you to change direction, ask yourself, "How can I modify my plan and still reach my goal?" Then take action.

2. Obtain direction with a weekly action strategy. Taking a proactive stance helps you overcome unexpected obstacles. At the end of your workweek, take time to digest what you have learned. Then clearly formulate your next goal and associated actions. Identify all the resources you need to succeed, and list them next to each action step. Diversions will occur. When they do, decide if they will impede you from realizing your current goal. If they will, simply adjust your action steps accordingly.

3. Gain focus by defining a purpose behind every action. To achieve success in times of change, continually seek out feasible remedies. For each action you define, ask yourself, "When I accomplish this, what kind of effect is it likely to have on my business?" Be deliberate and affirmative. Your defined objectives will help you analyze how distractions may or may not keep you from what you want to accomplish. Soon, you may view obstacles as opportunities rather than as roadblocks.

4. Transition with ease by asking for help. Many problems can be resolved by simply asking the right questions. If you get stuck on an obstacle, look to your colleagues for alternative ways to do things. There are people who have conquered challenges similar to the ones you are facing-learn from them. Ask for what you want, and people will help you find the clarity you require. Decide on your next action by choosing the one that best supports your current goal.

Train yourself to cope with the unexpected by defining and resolving one task a day that falls outside your comfort zone. Working through an issue for which you have no clear solution helps you develop the intuitive sense necessary to handle sudden challenges.

Speaker and consultant Romanus Wolter, aka "The Kick Start Guy," is author of Kick Start Your Dream Business.

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This article was originally published in the March 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Your Changing Path.

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