I don’t know about you but I absolutely hate change. The only thing that parallels my hatred for change is my love for routine and “having a system.” I’m constantly striving to reach a point where everything is running smoothly and if everything is running smoothly, then there’s no need for change.

Now what about those times where change is forced upon us? What about those times where we get derailed? Those are the times I hate the most because I didn’t have a choice in the matter. However, when I look at some of the best decisions I’ve made in my life, I realized that many of them were the result of getting derailed.

The Hope in Derailment

Stephen Schwartz wrote some absolutely brilliant lyrics for the film The Prince of Egypt. One of my favorite songs from the film is “Through Heaven’s Eyes.” If you ever find yourself not understanding why something is happening in life, listen to the lyrics in that song and I guarantee it will change your perspective. The lyrics are rich but I’m going to hi-light this one line:

“If a man lose everything he owns, has he truly lost his worth, or is it the beginning of a new and brighter birth?”

The possibility that you are at the start of something new and better when unexpected change occurs is where the hope in derailment lies.

Direction in Derailment

I don’t know about you, but I tend to have tunnel vision and will do things my way and go in the direction I want to go as long as I’m permitted to. This means that derailment is literally the only way to get me to go in another direction and make me aware of things other than my own agenda. Did you ever stop to think that maybe there is a direction you could be going in that’s better than your current path? Let me give you 3 examples of how derailment promotes awareness and in turn provides direction.

1. Derailment gives you awareness of your surroundings

I’m late to a lot of things in life but in the two years I’ve been working at Disney, I’ve never once been late to work. There’s always extra traffic around the holidays and this year I’m living in a busier area. However, this holiday season I accounted for that by trying to go a way that I thought wouldn’t be as backed up. The day after Christmas, I left my house with plenty of time to spare, went a way that I thought would be better than my normal way, yet still ended up having to call in late for work. It took me almost 2 hours to get to work. 

Now you could say “you should have left earlier.” Maybe, but I’m going to be honest my time is too valuable to leave my house two hours before a shift that should take me less than a half hour to get to so I decided in that moment that leaving earlier was not an option for the future. Instead, I was simply going to find another way to get to my destination. Well I ended up finding a way that was even faster than my original way and I decided I would use the new way from then on.

When I told my roommate about what I thought to be an amazing discovery, she looked at me and said “yeah, I know, I go that way all the time.” I felt kind of stupid for a second that  my new route was common knowledge and something that I probably should have figured out a long time ago, but the reality is, until I got derailed, I had no reason to find a new way. My way was good, but the new way was even better.

2. Derailment makes you aware of yourself

In the grand scheme of life calling in late to work one time is really not a big deal and you’re probably reading this thinking, “I have real problems, please tell me that’s not your idea of a life crisis.” Let me reassure you and say that it’s not. However, I have had two times where my entire life felt derailed.

The first was when my health went haywire and my entire life fell apart before my eyes in what felt like a very short time. I lost my health, jobs, looks, and independence all at the same time. However, there were many positive things that came out of that experience. One of them being a shift in priorities and awareness to what was truly important in life as well as an awareness of my personal limitations.  I would not have discovered the true importance of my faith, family, and friends had I not had my health taken from me.

Fortunately I recovered from my health challenges and when I did life pretty much went back to normal. With my restored health, jobs, and independence back I was feeling pretty good about life. I worked many jobs, some I liked more than others but one in particular that I really loved. I was doing great work with great people and life in general was pretty great and then in one summer I had the rug pulled out from under me yet again. I was replaced at my job, my health acted up again, the jobs I used to fill the void of the job I loved and lost were horrible, I had people constantly bugging me about being single, and I needed to move out of my apartment but had no direction. I felt like life as I knew it just stopped and I lost a piece of myself in the mix. In that time of derailment, I really had to dig deep and figure out what I really wanted. I also had different opportunities pop up on my radar that I never would have given a second thought had I not been derailed. That second time of major derailment led me to Disney, writing, and encouraging others.

3. Derailment makes you aware of information

The first time I had to file taxes as an independent contractor I was left completely derailed because I ended up owing so much in taxes that it made me think it wasn’t even worth it to be an artist. However, the reality was, I wasn’t informed. I didn’t know how to file my taxes as an artist and I never had to learn because it had never affected me. The next year I decided I wouldn’t get slammed again and I got informed, I asked questions, I kept track of my expenses and I became aware of the process.

Nobody likes getting derailed but whenever it happens it does force you to pause, re-assess, and become aware of more than what the tunnel vision on your current path allows.

If you need proof of something positive that’s come from my derailment, subscribe to Artist2Artist below and you will receive my free guide Tax Tips for Artists where I will share everything I’ve learned and researched about filing taxes as an independent contractor. Let’s be honest- artists and taxes typically don’t mix and I don’t want anyone to be derailed in this department the way I was so let me save you some time and help you get informed!

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Isaiah 55:9-“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

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