How to Travel Rough Roads

Life is hard sometimes. Despite our best efforts we run into rough roads. The big five rough roads are: financial, marital, health, employment, and moves. Some are clearly marked, and some we come upon suddenly. 

Rough roads disrupt the normal flow of our lives. They are usually stressful, disorienting and painful. While traveling rough roads, it seems like they will never end.

Winston Churchill said, “If you are going through hell, then keep on going.” There are many things that you can do to both prepare for rough roads and to travel them.

How to travel rough roads

Let’s use moving to another city as an example of a rough road. There’s certainly enough stress in moves to qualify! Here are 6 ways you can use to travel rough roads:

  1. Prioritize your efforts. When traveling rough roads, you have less available time and attention. Cut back on non-essential activities ahead of time. Take extra time with around you to increase communication during the stress.
  2. Get help, but only from those who are helpful. Some people are better suited for joining me on a rough road. Others stress me out. I invite help from those whose help leaves me encouraged, and I politely refuse help from those who don’t.
  3. Make sure you cover the essentials first. If you have warning of the rough road, get organized earlier than you think you need to be. In a move, this means paying bills, taking care of financial and legal things, etc.
  4. Keep perspective, the rough road will come to an end. On a rough road it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and lose hope. Yet, it will end. The movers will come. You will get on an airplane. You will get your house in order at the other end.
  5. Grieve the loss, embrace the future. Rough roads, and indeed all change, produce real loss. It’s okay to be sad, or even mad. But we can’t stay there. Embrace the future good and stability that will come. This may take a large degree of faith.
  6. Prepare to give grace. Everyone is easily irritated and short-tempered on rough roads. Now is not the time to confront your spouse about his or her attitude problem! Give grace to one another. Be a peacemaker by diffusing tensions.

If you can only do one of the above, choose grace.

We don’t always see a sign warning us of rough roads ahead, but when we do or when we find ourselves on a rough road, use these tips to make traveling them a bit easier.

Question: Have you traveled rough roads? What helped you the most along the way? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Keith is President of Creative Results Management. He helps busy leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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    3 thoughts on “How to Travel Rough Roads

    1. Keith, some great points here. I have a post in the works where I talk about something similar. For me, the two big things are (1) keeping your successes top of mind and (2) avoiding negative self-talk.

      I know there are major things that come up in our lives where all the positive thinking in the world isn’t going to cut it. But for those lesser, but still annoying things that come up, it’s important to keep the good stuff, your wins, in mind. It’s too easy to get all in a huff about what’s not working and forget all the blessings we *do* have.

      Closely related is avoiding negative self-talk. I’m bad at this but I recognize it so I guess that’s the first step. But I do think our words cause feelings, which cause actions, which lead to outcomes. May as well give ourselves the best chance we can.