There has been a lot of negative discourse in the world these days – in case you missed it: “the economy is terrible, everything is getting too expensive, you’re not getting any younger, there’s nothing you can do, terrorism is taking over” – it’s all thrown at us every day in the media and sometimes in relationships with those closest to us.
I know, like every last one of you, I’ve found myself in situations that were not the way I’d planned them to be. Whether it’s the unexpected end of a relationship, a surprise visit (from anyone good or not-so-good), failure or falling-short of goals, or financial burdens, when things don’t go as planned it can turn us all upside-down (even if only for a few moments).
So what’s the answer to all of it? What’s the other side of this cursed coin?
There are a lot of little things you can do to shift your game, and level the playing field. They may never prevent the unexpected (it’s called unexpected for a reason), but they’ll definitely help to change the way you influence the world around you, and how it impacts you. Here are some keys for helping you through “what to do when my plans don’t go as planned.”
Tune out the “it’s never gonna get better” voice
The moment things do not go our way, we instinctively begin rattling off all the far-fetched and overly melodramatic details of how “this is just one more terrible thing” in our lives – exaggerating how the situation truly affects us. A previous post of mine [Bad Publicity] talked about this voice a lot. The messages we tell ourselves have a very serious impact on how we view the world.
Ready for a little nostalgia? Remember when you were little and upset about something and your mom told you it would be okay? You believed her! Coincidentally, she was right, wasn’t she? When did you stop believing it would be alright?
When things don’t go as planned, take a moment and listen to that voice in your head. Notice how it makes you feel to believe all the negative and depressing ideas that voice is pushing on you. If you don’t want to feel that way, choose not to believe it. 90% of the time, we blow things out of proportion. The big question is this:
Did my plan get derailed or just delayed?
Take the hint – something is trying to emerge
When what you want seems to elude you, pause for a moment and look around. What appears instead? There’s something trying to emerge in all conflict – which is exactly what happens when plans go awry! I remember working in sales a few years ago, and I found that toward the end of that job it was getting increasingly difficult to smile and stay motivated. The job wasn’t terrible on the surface, but beneath the visible, my heart was crying out for escape. I was not supposed to be there any more.
I know you’ve had moments where you suddenly saw/felt a sign that changed your perspective or brought you clarity. In fact, you may have even asked the sky/God/Universe for a sign. Well, they’re all over the place and it’s high time you gave yourself permission to slow down and see them.
As an example, let’s imagine you’re unemployed and feeling pretty down about it. Maybe you even feel like the victim of the economy. The media is posting record unemployment numbers and it’s all doom-n-gloom well into the future.
Pause. Let’s look around for a moment.
Let’s imagine that other people around you have modified their searches and have found work. Let’s even go as far to say they took risks to get the jobs they now have. What’s this sensation? Maybe the sign here is that changing your plan or taking a risk will deliver the reward you’re looking for. Are you too focused on something that’s not coming? Are you so focused on the tree in front of you that you miss the engulfing wildfire around it?
What’s trying to emerge in your struggle?
Play the Bigger Game & return to the basics
This is probably the most important piece in the equation. When plans fall apart or don’t go as expected, and you feel the weight of it all pushing you off track – discouraging and demotivating you – get back to basics. The Bigger Game is all about knowing who you are and why you do what you do. If you don’t know what it is that makes you come alive, then everything can almost taste the same. If, however, you’ve discovered what you want – what fulfills, thrills, motivates, calms, and creates you – then all you need to do is return to the why behind it.
A perfect example of this is my friend Joe. He works in his garage building custom motorcycles on weekends and most weekday nights (often well into the early morning hours). He also works 40 hours a week in a corporate job pounding phones in a cubicle in the suburbs. When things don’t go as planned, he knows it’s just a delay in his real place in life – building custom bikes.
Joe is so infinitely clear about what makes him feel most alive that he simply doesn’t let anything get in his way. His why is pumping through his veins. Motorcycle building and customizing is Joe’s “Adrenaline of Purpose.” What’s yours?
When it’s as crystal clear what you want as it is with Joe, a calmness comes over you when the unexpected happens. Instead of reacting to the stress, you get curious about it. It no longer threatens your future or happiness. You know what you want and why. That’s the first brick to lay in your foundation.
If you want help discovering what your Adrenaline of Purpose is, contact me. Let’s discover what pumps through your veins.
The Mark Twain quote above is so perfect because we need to stay present to opportunity. Even completely changed or ruined plans can unfold into the most beautiful day in your life. Give it that chance.
What do you find yourself doing/thinking/feeling/behaving when plans don’t go as planned?
Leave your comments below!
P.S. It’s all going to be okay.