Stay the Course


“Stay the course.” One of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies, The Patriot. When the movie came out in 2000, my three children were heading straightway into their teen years. Those years were consumed with decision making and so many highs and lows.

(We would like to think all this ends when our children become adults and as we, as adults, mature and age, but it doesn’t.)

Over the years, I have both consoled and counseled many teens and adults, and my advice is the same: stay the course. Don’t get distracted by situations, stay focused on the goal and trust that in time you will arrive where you want to be. The winds of strife will come. The waves of tragedy will knock you over. At times it may feel like all the work and energy you invested in a situation, person or place was wasted. But, it wasn’t.

Like everyone, I’ve had my share of waves and winds. Most recently, after 17 years working at a hospital, my position was eliminated. I was devastated. I was wounded. I was broken hearted. I was lost. Many of the same feelings I experienced seven years earlier when my marriage ended.

After a few weeks of ice cream, movies, tears and walks in the woods, it was time to find my path and move through the situation.

I did some work with a life coach, who often told me, “trust the momentum.” Believe me, when you are just starting out again, the momentum is slow-going and often seems to stall. Trusting the momentum is like planting tulip bulbs in the fall and then trusting they will pop up in the spring, after the worst winter ever. You just have to believe your efforts will yield results.

Who hasn’t felt like a tulip bulb hoping and waiting for spring to arrive? Wondering if you made the right decision?

It is during this time of waiting and trusting that something more is on its way, that we are challenged to stay the course. But this is when it is most important. Changing directions because the path seems foggy is never a good decision. It is important to wait and trust that you set a good course.

Another favorite saying was written by the Apostle Paul to the churches in southern Galatia. Paul wrote, “Do not grow weary in doing good, for in due time you will reap your harvest if you do not give up.”

This quote is especially pertinent when it seems you have done all you can do and still nothing is happening, or when you are tempted to deviate towards a less-than-totally-ethical path.

Stay the course, trust the momentum, do the right things, don’t give up. It works!

Now, I believe more than ever in these concepts. I own two businesses and work from home as I have always wanted.

The first year was easy because I had the excitement of being a business owner and was in charge of my own schedule and time.

The second year was much harder as the reality that my future – especially my finances, insurance and retirement – was truly in my hands.

It was during the second year that I started wondering if I should apply for “a real job” (code for work for someone else) with benefits and insurance and a weekly paycheck.

You know the saying “where the rubber meets the road?” Well, my rubber was meeting the road and it was scary and overwhelming. Next thing I knew I was playing the what-if game: What if I can’t make a house payment? What if my car breaks down? What if……..

I had traded in my “beliefs” of what I could accomplish for “what if” I didn’t.

Losing sight of my objectives and beliefs, was like losing sight of the north star for a ship at sea or travelers on foot. For a few weeks, I had to actively reminded myself to stay the course, plot the path, trust the momentum.

I wrote out my beliefs, I posted my goals where I could see them, I test drove the kind of truck I want. I stopped – like being lost in a forest – and revisited what I wanted. It was like once again finding my north star, my compass, my lighthouse.

Today, my public relations and writing business have momentum. Our log home construction and restoration business have momentum. Our finances have momentum. I have momentum.

It’s easy to get distracted, but it is also easy to say no to the distractions. As Nike says, “just do it.”

Here are a few tips to “stay the course”:

  1. Write down (in present, not future tense) and review often who you are and where you are going. for instance: I believe that I am a great businesswoman; I believe that people need what I have to give; I believe that I am making more than enough money; I believe that I can run a 5K.
  2. Have a guiding motto of the month or year; for instance: This or something better comes to me today; be disciplined in every area of my month; the universe is for me.
  3. Revisit your goals quarterly, not yearly.
  4. Have an accountability partner that you can share where you are going. Then, when you get a bit off course, they can remind you of where you are headed and why.
  5. Look at the stars at night.
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