Nov 21, 2022

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When You Can’t See the Path Ahead (Navigating Through Unexpected Situations)

personal, The Anxious Creative

subject stands in front of bright orange bckgrnd wearing yellow sweater. hair is up, they are holding their face w/shocked expression. Text under reads "How to get back on track when the unexpected happens"

It can be scary not knowing if you’re on the right path. Whether you’re raising your prices, going out on your own, or wanting to implement a new change in your business, paving a new path can be unnerving and stressful.

Keep reading and you’ll walk away knowing:

  • what driving through a snowstorm has to do with business

  • how to navigate unexpected situations

  • that it’s okay to go at your own pace

You’ll be confident that even if you can’t see where you’re going, you’re getting there in a way that feels right for you.

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Driving Through a Snowstorm (And How it Applies to Business)

Holy poop, friend. To say that I had a wild time over the last couple of weeks would be a bit of an understatement. 

If you follow me on Instagram @dawnbradleyhair, then you probably already saw that I got stuck in a major snowstorm. 

It was such an experience that I wanted to share it with you and give you a play-by-play of how I was feeling and thinking. 

I’m all about keeping it real and I’m really enjoying getting back to sharing some more vulnerable stories with you. 

A Quick Trip

To preface this story, all of this started when I needed to get some work done on my house. They’re installing new windows completely. I figured while they were boarding up my house I would get outta town and visit my parents for a bit. 

It’s snowing on the day I decide to leave, so I take a look at the route info online and everything is saying that as I drive, it’s going to get nicer and I won’t end up stuck in the snow. 

Awesome! I get into my ‘08 VW City Golf with all-season tires, Walter’s in the backseat and we’re ready for a mild-wintery road trip. 

I grew up in some of the harshest winters in Canada so I learned how to drive really well in snowy weather and have never had a need for winter tires (until now, you could say). 

So Walter and I are setting out on our trip and the snow is pretty bad in the city, but I’m convinced once I get onto the highway it’ll get better. 

It doesn’t. 

In the first hour, I see three semis in the ditch. I don’t worry too much, I have confidence in my driving capabilities and know if I take it snow, eventually, it’s going to get better. 

I decide that a detour through another city is the best plan, thinking they’ll have cleared their roads better. 

What should have taken me two hours has already taken me nearly four hours at this point. 

At one town, I stop to fill up my car and end up talking to some of the people around me. They let me know that the storm is heading south. My mom, on the phone, tells me that it’s going north. 

I think, “Awesome, I’m heading east. It’ll pass me.”

A Total Whiteout

I get back in my car and start driving. This is when it starts to get really bad. 

The snow is coming down so heavy I can’t see more than a foot ahead of me. There are no visible tracks from any of the cars ahead of me. The white lines that were previously visible on the road have now disappeared into the flurry of snow. 

Occasionally, I pass someone. I can sometimes make out bits and pieces of the lines on the road. I can see a few things in the distance and so I think I’m okay to keep going. 

I remember passing a town and seeing a motel there, momentarily wondering if I should stop. I can’t remember how bad it was at that point, but I kept going. 

It seemed to happen suddenly, I was driving, and then there weren’t any cars in front of me anymore. Any tracks that may have been there a second before had been blown away to nothingness. The road was completely covered. I couldn’t see any landmarks. 

It was a complete whiteout. And it was absolutely terrifying. 

I called my friend crying because I didn’t know what to do. I was going 25 km/hour. I didn’t know what side of the road I was on, couldn’t tell you where the shoulder was, not a clue if I was going to fall off into the ditch or not. 

At one point, I was gripping the steering wheel so tightly my forearms were sore. 

There was one time when a person passed me and it pissed me right off. But I didn’t care if they went whizzing past me because I know how to drive my car. I know what my car is capable of in this kind of weather. 

Even though the people behind me might have been cursing my name because I was going so slow, I knew that what I was doing was safe and the right thing for me. 

My friend tried to encourage me to get the 50km to Kindersley. I was so stressed out that all I wanted was for her to tell me that I was going to be okay. I didn’t need encouragement to push forward, I needed encouragement to maintain. 

Kindness of Strangers

Finally, I saw a sign for a teeny tiny town. I knew they didn’t have anything other than a gas station but I also knew I needed to get off the road. 

I wanted to pull over so badly, but it would have been more dangerous if I had. 

The gas station came into view and I was sure I would get stuck just pulling my car into the parking lot. But I turned the wheel and essentially coasted into the gas station and ended up getting stuck as I parked. 

I went inside, feeling defeated. There was a little restaurant attached to the station and I told them I was stuck, didn’t think I was going any further and had no idea what to do. 

A nice man named Roger helped get me unstuck and we moved my car to a better area in the parking lot so I wouldn’t get stuck again. 

I needed a second to catch my breath and I went and called my parents. Surprisingly I didn’t cry, even though it was all I wanted to do. 

My first thought was to just sleep in my car overnight with Walter and fill up in the morning. However, my mom suggested that I call a local church to see if someone could take me in (mom’s always coming in with the best suggestions!). 

So that’s exactly what I did and these lovely people, Lorraine and Barry came and got me and I spent two nights at their farm. 

I’m sure you can imagine how this anxious person felt spending the night with total strangers!

I was so exhausted, so tired, that all I wanted to do was relax at these people’s house. But because I don’t know them, I’m a bit on edge. 

I want to be kind and considerate and help out, but at the same time, I just want to cry my eyes out and fall asleep. 

It took me 6.5 hours to get there. The whole trip to my parent’s house should have taken me that long and I’d only made it halfway. 

I had so much tension in my neck and shoulders from gripping the steering wheel so tightly. It wasn’t too much of a surprise when I slept for 12 hours that night. 

Let’s Try That Again

I was so ready and excited to get going the next day. But even after getting the industrial-sized tractor with a snow-blowing attachment, the roads were still not good enough to drive on and I ended up staying at the farm for another night. 

Thankfully, the roads seemed a bit better the following day and I decided it was time to take my leave, even if I had to drive super slow. I didn’t want to overstay my welcome. 

I made it to the farm on Wednesday at around 3:30 pm and I left Friday morning at about 9 am. 

The roads were still pretty bad, it seemed that they were in the middle of a storm pattern. 

I didn’t mind, I’d had to drive slow on the roads for a while and they were finally better, visibility was there and I decided that I can drive slow on the ice, as long as I can see the road and know where I’m going. 

Because of that lack of visibility, not knowing where I was going or if I was making the right turn or even on the right side of the road. Constantly wondering if I was going to get rear-ended, drive into someone in oncoming traffic, or go off the edge, was truly terrifying. I didn’t know the answers and had to trust my instincts. 

So that Friday, when I set out on my journey again, I made sure that I took it super slow and was extra cautious. I’ve ended up in the ditch before (unscathed thankfully) and it made me a very cautious winter driver. 

At one point, I was on a single-lane highway and I couldn’t see the lines. A semi came up really close behind me and I was so annoyed. ‘If I were to brake that semi is going to be smashing right into me.’ 

They ended up forcing me into the center of the road and passing me on the right. Which is completely illegal. 

After 40 minutes of driving, I finally made it to Kindersley, and it was smooth sailing from there, and I made it to my parent’s house. 

It felt like a time warp. I was so stressed and anxious, but also so glad I made it safe. 

I ended up having to stay with my parents for about a week. I got there Friday and left the following Saturday because the roads were unpredictable. 

A Business Analogy

I had this moment where I just had to surrender it all as I was driving. And you know I love a good analogy, so I wanted to tie this into business. 

Sometimes you don’t know where you’re headed, you can’t see a path that someone else has taken, and you don’t know if you’re in the right place, if you’re gonna fall off the edge and it seems like you’re moving at a snail’s pace and it feels like everyone else is speeding past you. 

So you wonder if you’re being too cautious, but deep down you feel like it’s the right thing for you. And I want you to lean into that. 

Sometimes you feel like you’re not moving fast enough and people are speeding by you. And you wonder how come I can’t see the road and other people can? Why does this feel so scary and risky?

And maybe for you, it is! 

Maybe there are big moves that you want to make in business, but you fear conflict and confrontation and you see someone else doing it with so much ease and you think “are they not in the same storm as me?” and it’s possible that they’re not because they don’t struggle with the same thing as you. 

That’s not to beat yourself up over the fact that you struggle with something. We all have different lives, different histories, and unique experiences that have taught us things, including how to be cautious or what’s dangerous. 

Maybe the person speeding past you has never driven off the road before. Maybe that person has had success in doing this before. 

Know that it’s not a race. You can go at your own pace and still get to your destination. 

So I wanted to tell you about my snowstorm because it was unreal and it was scary. To be honest, I don’t want to drive on the highways in winter ever again. 

But I also wanted this to serve as a reminder that we never know what other people are going through. 

I tried to sit down and focus on my business but I was so exhausted and overwhelmed that I couldn’t. And I was beating myself up over the fact that I had this time at these people’s farms, and had some sort of expectation on myself that I should be able to get work done. And mentally, I couldn’t. 

When stuff happens to us, trauma or the unexpected, or if we’ve pushed so hard that we’re exhausted, we need to rest. It’s so important. 

You will not do your best work and you will not be your best and you will make mistakes if you push through

Thanks for letting me get a little vulnerable with you and share that story, friend. 

If you’ve ever been in a situation where you’ve felt completely out of your control, you didn’t know what was going to happen and you were terrified, let me know over on Instagram @dawnbradleyhair. I seriously love hearing from you. 

Until next time friend, stay safe.

Let’s be besties?

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I am just a small-town, Canadian gal from the prairies who teaches thousands of creatives around the globe how to earn 6-figures stress-free!

Hey, I’m Dawn!

“Rock Your Business” Course Creator, Host of “The Anxious Creative” Podcast. Named by Salon Magazine as Canada’s #1 women of influence.

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