My morning started off in the usual way. After a good night of sleep, I feel energized and ready to start my day. But then I open the blinds. Instead of the welcoming morning light streaming through the windows there is a dense fog surrounding the house. I can’t see more than a few feet ahead.

I thought to myself, this is strange, it seems a little early in the season  for such a heavy fog. Then I realize; this is not fog – it is a haze of smoke!

Jut when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any stranger, the Western United States is blanketed in heavy smoke from devastating fires. The strong recommendation is to stay inside with doors and windows tightly shut. Where you want to stay outside for COVID, you are now forced inside to stay safe from the hazardous air.

At day 7 of the smoke, it is hard to not be discouraged.

Sometimes in life it seems you can’t get a break. Problems mount upon problems and you begin to wonder what is next. You think to yourself, today is hard enough, what is going to happen tomorrow? Perhaps you feel like you are in the fog yourself, with an uncertain future ahead.

If you are feeling this way my friend, you are not alone. In times of challenge it is a natural reaction to feel doubt, and even paralyzing fear.

What do you do when your future is unclear? Here are 5 steps you can take to move forward:

1. Acknowledge the current reality. High achievers often choose to keep on pushing when there is a problem. Believe me, I get it, it has certainly been my M.O. in the past. The bigger the challenge the more you may tell yourself, “I can work myself out of this.”

Unfortunately, you may be plowing a path in the wrong direction. You need to give yourself permission to stop, and as Jim Collins says – confront the brutal truth.

2. Recognize how you are feeling. Accept that you may not be where you wanted to be this year in some area of your life. Are you sad or discouraged? Frustrated or angry? Whatever emotions you find yourself having, accept that this is where you are at.

Remember when you numb your unhappy feelings you also numb your ability to feel joy. It is much healthier to allow yourself to experience the emotions then to ignore them.

3. Create clarity. Determine what is within your control and what is not. It can be helpful to write it down. Grab your journal and write the heading – What I Can Control, then make a list of the things you can do to move forward. Be as specific as you can.

4. Take one day at a time. You’ve likely heard the verse, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” There is amazing truth in this statement. When you look ahead at the entire staircase you have to climb it can be daunting. Instead, bring your attention to what you should do next. Then take the first step.

5. Focus on today’s action. How can you make today a great day? Ask yourself what you can do today. Despite the circumstances, determine what you can do today to move yourself, your family, and your business forward.

When you’re caught in the fog it can impact your ability to move in the right direction. Remember to stop and assess where you are so you can navigate the path ahead. You will reduce anxiety and ease stress when you do. Plus, when the fog clears you will be where you wanted to be.