Several months ago, my daughter’s beloved Dachshund died. Her name was Babe and she and my daughter were best friends. Babe was supposed to have been my dog, but it was love at first sight for Babe and Stevie. We were never sure exactly how old Babe was because she was given to us by a friend, who got her from someone else, who’d gotten her from an old lady, who’d gotten her from the pound.
Babe was always a stinky dog, and she got stinkier with age. It took me years to house train her, and even then she hated to go outside if it was cold or rainy. In other words, she was quite a lot of work. She was worth it though, because she was loyal and sweet. Babe lived with us for about 12 years.
Stevie, of course, was devastated. She almost immediately started reading ads on craigslist, saying that she didn’t really want another dog, but liked reading the ads and looking at the pictures. Her younger sister, Jodi, was sure that Stevie needed another dog right away, so she also started reading classifieds and breed descriptions and thinking about what kind of dog Stevie should have.
Eventually, of course, they read an ad they couldn’t resist because they are soft-hearted teenage girls. It was an ad for a poodle that had been rescued. They decided to just “go check it out.” Right. They came home with the funniest looking poodle I have ever seen. She was mostly blond, with a black tail, black ears and just enough black on her nose to make it look huge. The rescuer had been calling her Dawn and Stevie promptly renamed her Sparkles, which she answered to immediately.
Sparkles didn’t have any teeth, and had apparently never had too much affection. I petted her a little and she became very attached – like wouldn’t get more than about a foot away from me. At first, I tried to ignore her, in the hopes she would become attached to Stevie, but Stevie is rarely home and left for Bonnaroo a week after bringing Sparkles home.
So Sparkles became my dog. I’ve had lots of dogs, but never one who was quite so attached as Sparkles. She cried when I left the house and slept by the door until I came back home. She slept under my desk all day and sat with me in the evenings. One day, she got covered in grass trimmings and was completely green because she followed me while I was weed-eating. When she went out she usually walked to the driveway, did her business and came back to the door. She didn’t seem to have any desire to run around and explore.
Yesterday, my husband came home for lunch and let her out, (I didn’t realize she was outside) and we haven’t seen her since. I’m sure that she wandered down the driveway, then got lost and confused. I’ve walked up and down the road looking for her and have asked a couple of neighbors if they saw here, and still have some hope that we will find her. She couldn’t have gotten too far. We will post lost dog signs this afternoon and ask the rest of the neighbors if they have seen her.
Thinking about Sparkles wandering around in the world lost got me to thinking about being lost – and finding your way – in all sorts of situations. Whether you are lost in life, lost for a minute, or you’ve lost direction professionally, just the sensation of not knowing the way is scary. (Poor Sparkles!)
If you are feeling lost in your business it is especially scary because (usually) your business is your livelihood. Plus, you want to appear confident to your clients, customers and competitors, right? You don’t want the world to know you’re lost. So, you try to hold your head up with a bright, happy smile and at least try to appearto know where you are going.
Sometimes projecting confidence is all it takes to get you headed in the right direction. Sometimes you need a map – a to do list or a business plan or an evaluation by a professional – to help you find your way. The important thing is to acknowledge your lost feeling, then do something about it. If you let yourself get too far off track, you might not find your way back.
I find that constant evaluation works best for me. Setting up a plan, then revisiting every month or quarter simply doesn’t work. I need to look at it everyday, sometimes multiple times a day, and ask myself, “Is what you are doing right now part of the plan? Are you getting closer to your goals?” Other people are able to head in the general right direction and get where they want to be without such rigid adherence to a written plan.
I need to go now, and make some signs that might help Sparkles find her way home, but I’d love to know: What do you do when you feel lost? Are you a go-with-the-flow kind of person or do you need a set of accurate directions?