We all veer off the beaten path we set for ourselves in life. Whether it’s a deteriorated relationship, or replacing college with a full-time job, we all get a little derailed. By the time we turn 18 a magical timeline appears laying out an inevitable path. But what happens when changes in life take us in a different direction than we had originally planned?

Linda Levin, who has a master’s degree in childhood development and special education, explains why so many people fear getting derailed.

“We spend too much time on ‘should be.’ I ‘should be’ this or I ‘should be’ that. And girls get this a lot,” Levin said.

Success and Failure Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.The idea that humans must progress a certain way begins at conception and proceeds all through young adulthood, and with each developmental milestone comes a new set of norms. Once high school is complete, the expectations from many parents are to see their children go to college.

Although they may start the journey that is expected of them, not every young adult will stick to following the path that has been deemed “normal,” and straying may cause fear and a sense of failure.

Placing pressure on one’s self to follow a certain standard, as Levin explains, “causes terrible stress.” If certain expectations are not met, we tend to put ourselves, and our efforts, down.

Today, the term “derailed” is often used when expressing a time in one’s life when things didn’t go according to plan. Levin explains this philosophy needs a huge makeover. She advises to look at the term literally.

“It’s like a train that goes off the track. Something bad could happen, but it doesn’t necessarily mean something bad may come out of it,” Levin said.

Too often we associate derailment with something negative, as oppose to looking at the change in direction as just running on a new set of tracks.

So, how can one start to look at an unexpected turn of life events in a more positive light?

Levin suggests meeting with a career counselor or mentor to work out career goals and plans.

“A mentor is one of the greatest gifts in life,” Levin said, “people don’t just know this, they need  to be taught.”

Spending the time figuring out who your are, what your passions are, and what makes you happy is an important journey every one should make time for, Levin said.

And creating a foundation to use as a platform for new life adventures is essential in engineering new paths that allow you to step out of the box, and not feel fearful to do so.

Regardless of what curve-ball life may throw, remember every plan is bound to have bumps along the way. Just because life steers in a different direction doesn’t mean goals can’t be met, and accomplishments are any less of a success. 

Perhaps the word “derailed” should be replaced with the word “detour.”