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Keep Following Your Detour, Even When it Hurts or Makes You Feel Like a Failure

It’s no secret that Lindsay and I are in love with the concept of “detours”.

Several years ago, when it felt like the walls around us were crashing down, deciding to look at our circumstance as a detour rather than a roadblock changed the trajectory of our lives.

It gave us permission to find hope for the future. By following our detour,  we felt as if we’d regained our sense of control.

Since that moment, we’ve never looked back, and now we live with a belief that we can accomplish or do anything (somedays more than others 🙂 ), regardless of the roadblocks that surface along the way.

Detours are powerful. They can bring feelings of hope, of new beginnings, change, and personal growth. They’re exciting.

Enjoying one of our “fun” detours – traveling full-time in our RV

But, sometimes following a detour isn’t fun and/or exciting; sometimes it’s extremely difficult. Feelings such as pain, loss, fear, and failure are all too common when your detour is not something you want to do, but, rather, something that you need to do.

For example, it feels entirely different to follow a detour into a life of full-time travel than it does to detour away from an important relationship. That’s the type of detour most people dread rather than embrace.

The truth is, however, we need to follow all of our detours, not just the fun or exciting ones. The detours that bring about the most negative feelings and emotions can often be the most powerful ones. 

Struggling Through My Own “Failure” Detours

Over the last several months, I’ve had to follow two major detours that brought lots of negative emotions with them. For me, following these detours made me feel like a failure, something that nobody wants to feel, and probably the feeling I try to most avoid in my life.

The first detour was shutting down and moving on from Nomad Collab, a membership site that Lindsay and I poured our hearts and souls into. Even though the site was doing pretty well and membership was growing, we just knew that it wasn’t the right time in our life for that endeavor. We didn’t have the emotional energy to keep investing and we no longer saw the business as part of our long term goals. The decision to shut it down as agonizing and we wrestled with it for weeks. We felt like we were letting everyone down, and worst of all, we felt like we had failed as entrepreneurs.

Nomad Collab Founding Members
The Nomad Collab Team after our first in-person work retreat.

The second detour came when I decided to go back to work at my old job. Even though my company has always been a great place to work and I love the people there, I’d quit the job with hopes of earning enough income from our own endeavors (like Nomad Collab) to not rely upon traditional employment. Going back to work came with tons of emotions, most of which made me feel terrible and like I had failed miserably.

Even though there were circumstances and rationale for following each of these detours, these were detours I did not want to follow. I knew in my heart that I was doing the right thing and that I needed to follow them, but the negative emotions and the pain made it difficult.

Realizing the Power of All Detours

Now that I am through these detours, however, I realized that following them has made me a stronger, more complete person. I’ve grown tremendously by realizing that “failure” detours are actually good things.

While I still have a lot of work to grow in this area, I have realized that by opening myself up to all detours, the exciting ones, and the ones that feel terrible, I am actually cultivating the mindset of success and overall wellbeing.

My hope for you is that you can realize the same and find the courage to follow all of your detours.

Are You Facing Your Own Failure Detour?

facing a tough life detour

Have you ever known it was time to move on from something, but admitting it made you feel like a total and complete failure?

Maybe it was a marriage or a friendship that presented your detour moment.  Perhaps it was a career that you had to say goodbye to, or maybe you had just had to close the door on one dream so that you could have the space to pursue another.

Maybe you are living that experience right now.

Following detours that cause us pain requires a lot of courage, but it’s important to do so because they can also change your life for the better. These are the detours that shape your character. These are the detours that change the path or the direction of your life.

3 Reasons “Failure” Detours Are a Good Thing

The hardest detours for me to follow have been detours that make me feel like a failure, but I’ve learned that they are really blessings in disguise and powerful opportunities in our lives. Here are 3 reasons why:

1. There really is no such thing as failure, as long as you keep moving forward and don’t quit.

It is true that Nomad Collab didn’t turn out the way that we had envisioned and that hurts deeply. It’s also true that I never expected to be back working for someone else after I’d set out on my own. Regardless, I learned a ton working on Nomad Collab and I have put us in a better and more reliable financial situation by returning to work. Both of these detours have been incredibly valuable, and once I was willing to move past the idea that I “failed”, it was clear to see.

I’ve learned more about technology and membership sites, shopping cart platforms, email marketing etc. I gained valuable experience working with others and better know what strengths I have and how I like to use them. I connected with new people and built relationships that didn’t exist prior. In fact, I grew tremendously. I also have learned that making it as an entrepreneur is an iterative process and the journey looks different for everyone. Returning to work is just part of that iteration for me.

The idea that it was a “failure” was based on my own thinking, and on such a limited view of what happened.

Can I really call it a failure when I gained so much? 

Being afraid to fail is irrational. It’s irrational because there is no such thing as failure – as long as you don’t quit.

No matter the outcome, if you have poured energy into something, you have gained something. A lesson, knowledge, new skills, experience, a relationship… something. If you harness what you have gained and keep moving forward, then regardless of the outcome, you’ve benefited.

If you take what you’ve gained from the tough detours as well as the good ones, you will always be able to claim some level of success, and therefore it can’t really be a failure.

2. Success comes from facing failure.

Most of us believe in the notion that strength is forged in the fire. Or in other words, strength, whether it be physical or emotional comes from overcoming adversity. They say that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” or “no pain, no gain”. Why then, are we so afraid to follow detours that envoke feelings of failure?

Shouldn’t we actually be seeking them out?

Successful entrepreneur, author and podcast host Brooke Castillo puts its this way during one of her podcast episodes

A lot of people like to think about success as if success is the only thing
that moves us forward, but here’s what I want you to see; attempts are
what move us forward. We learn by our attempts. We learn by our actions.
Our actions move us forward whether we get the result we want or not, we
are moving forward.

Brooke believes that there is a direct correlation between your willingness to fail and your eventual success. One of her favorite quotes says, ” If you want success, you need to double the rate of failure.”

I completely agree with that. When it comes to detours that feel like failures, remembering that failure is necessary for success can help you find the courage to continue.

Whether it’s shutting down a business or ending a relationship, your detour moment is only a failure if you don’t learn from it and you quit moving forward.

I’m not saying that you should run out and end your relationship or shut down your business, but if you find yourself in that situation, remember that the entire experience, the good and the bad, is available to help you learn and grow better for the next time.

3. Embracing failure will make you a more confident person.

Typically, we feel more “confident” doing things that we have done many times. Most of us feel pretty confident about driving a car or completing our day jobs. When facing an unsettling detour, we tend to feel doubtful and unsure about our decisions.

If we can realize, however, that failure is simply an emotion that we get to control, then we don’t need to be limited by the fear of it.

In fact, we can leverage that failing is actually a good thing to help push us through tough detours and make us more confident people. We can be confident because we know that the worst thing likely to happen in a given situation, or by taking a chance on something, is that we will “fail”. We can also be confident that every situation has a result that we can learn and grow from.

Your confidence has to come from your ability to fail and knowing
that you’re not going to give up and knowing that you can fail and get better
and get better every time – Brooke Castillo

Surprisingly, after shutting down Nomad Collab and going back to work, I have more confidence in myself as an entrepreneur and know that my long term goals are still readily available for me.

Is It Time for You to Face Your Detour?

I hope that reading this article has empowered you to face the detour that you know is right, but you’ve been too afraid to follow. Maybe you’re like me and your fear stems from the idea of failing, or maybe you’re worried what people will say or think, or maybe it is just so painful you’d rather not deal with it.

Whatever your detour is, I hope you can see that even the worst detours bring about the opportunity for tremendous growth – the opportunity to course-correct or redefine who or where you want to be. That, I believe, is something worth following.

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Daniel McKenzie

Dan is a near Colorado native that loves to experience new places, cultures, and adventures. He considers himself a pretty laid back kind of guy and loves to enjoy a refreshing beverage on a patio.

All posts by Daniel McKenzie

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Md Redoy Hossain
Md Redoy Hossain
4 years ago

I just love this article. I have found more inspiration for my project. I appreciate your thoughts. Thank you

Tina Klinefelter
Tina Klinefelter
4 years ago

Thanks for sharing your story Dan! In the corporate world, I always counseled my team that the greatest lessons we learn in life come from our mistakes and if you aren’t making them, you certainly aren’t trying hard enough to succeed. Love this post and I’m here to say from personal experience that if you hadn’t taken the leap to develop Nomad Collab I would not have developed as many nomadic community relationships and for that I thank you and Lindsay and the other founders. I’ve made friends and business connections for life, found a place to stay when broken… Read more »

Kelley Sexton
Kelley Sexton
4 years ago

This took a lot of courage and I appreciate your openness, transparency, and honesty to share those difficult moments in your life.

So many time social media just shows the best in peoples lives or even the fantasy that they live. Not many people are willing to show the good the bad and the ugly. I so appreciate and respect what you did.

Denise Bumby
Denise Bumby
4 years ago

Wow Dan, You have hit the nail on the head. I totally wish the word Failure didn’t have such a negative connotation with it. People see it as such a bad thing and therefore run from it, often refusing to acknowledge it, therefore making it impossible to grow from. I am a strong believer that if we (society) could take away the negative connotation we could all feel better, learn from and be willing to take more risks cause it wouldn’t be so bad if we Failed. We could just acknowledge it, learn from it and try again. No big… Read more »

Jerry Minchey
Jerry Minchey
4 years ago

Dan, that was a great article. I have shut down businesses and ended relationships, and as you said, at the time it feels like a failure. I like your way of looking at situations.