Tag Archives: Change

Dealing with Detours & Limited Visibility: Planning vs Living

While I’m not a huge planner, I do have a twenty year plan for my fiction career and three years into it, I’m exactly where I want to be. This month Melinda talks about how to deal with long term planning and short term detours. -Alex.

Driving in the DarkPlans are like a road map – they tell you where to go. Not like people tell you where to go when they’re insulting you, maps (and plans) tell you in a good way. So why don’t we all plan our lives, businesses, careers and families more?

Often it’s because we can’t comprehend that far ahead. It’s hard to get our head around planning what we’ll do in 20 years time. Heck, some days I have trouble planning the next weekend!

And there’s also the “I might not want the same things then” along with “how can I plan that far ahead when I know I’m going to change in that time?” See, the thing is, by the time you get 20 years further along in life then it’s a given that you’ll want different things and that you’ll change. If you don’t change then you’re probably dead, in which case you won’t care.

Guaranteed to change

So we don’t plan. We drift. We might plan a year or two down the track, or we plan for tangible results and things we can see. Anyone here got a 30 year mortgage or a five year car loan/lease? Yes, I thought so. What we can’t see is who we’ll be in the future and so we avoid designing ourselves in advance in case it doesn’t fit with who we become on the journey.

News Flash. It’s not going to fit. You’re going to change and your plans are going to change. Guaranteed.

Guess what? In 20 years you’ll be 20 years older

Think about this. In 20 years time you’ll be 20 years older. And some things won’t change. You’ll still have your morals and values. Some things that are uber-important to you now will still be uber-important then, like family – only you’ll probably have grandkids rather than kids then.

Who do you want to be in 20 years time? How can you design your life so your values are still there, only stronger?

Road trip 101

Think of going on a long journey and how you plan it. You look at your map or GPS, and you plan where you’re going – from A to B and the road in between. Which towns you’re going to drive through. Take the faster main highway with the tolls and traffic or the longer but quieter back roads? Where will we stop for food and fuel on the way?

Then you leave and it’s night time so you turn your headlights on. Tell me, how far can you see? A couple of hundred metres, or as far as the light reaches, yes? Does that worry you, that you can’t see your destination when you leave home? Of course it doesn’t, because experience has taught you that as you drive the road will be revealed in the lights as you move forward.

Your life plans are the same. You can’t see 20 years ahead, but you can see next week, and next month. And as time passes you keep seeing next week and next month, but they keep moving on into the future as you do.

When problems happen – and they will

And sometimes as you drive there’ll be something unexpected. Roadworks. A detour. A flooded road. A flat tyre or mechanical failure. You have to work around it. Take a different route. Try a new road. Fix a problem.

Sometimes these hiccups and diversions lead to angst and frustration. You might get lost and confused. Run late. Costs more than you expected. And maybe you’ll discover something new along the way. Unexpected and exciting. Something you’d never have seen if not for the detour.

And always your headlights are showing just that bit of road immediately in front of you. Yet you still know where you’re headed in the end, even though you can’t see it and the signs may not even be pointing to it yet. You know, you’ve planned the road.

So what are you going to do about it?

You’re eventually going to be 20 years older than you are now. Are you going to allow yourself to drift directionless, going wherever the road takes you? Or are you going to plan who and what you want to be and deal with the changes and hiccups along the way to becoming that person?

About Melinda

Melinda BrennanMelinda Brennan is a business coach who woke up one day and realised that she was 20 years older and hadn’t notice the years passing. Now she’s becoming who she wants to be and loving a deliberately planned life. Hiccups, detours, roadblocks and all.

Check out what she’s doing at WAHM Biz Builder

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Life always changes: a lesson my dogs taught me

ed: This is a guest post by Janine Adams.

I consider myself a bit of a risk taker. I haven’t had a steady paycheck (beyond a magazine column) or employee benefits in fourteen years. I’ve built two successful businesses. So I’m someone who’s willing to step out on a limb. But my dogs recently taught me a lesson on how fear can keep me from trying new things.

I have two standard poodles, Kirby and Pip. Kirby is scaredy dog. He’s afraid of many things, including, literally, his own shadow. If he sees another dog on a walk, he figures the best defense is a good offense and he turns into a seventy-pound, barking, lunging fool. And sometimes he barks, and even lunges, at strange people.

Pip, on the other hand is calm and confident. Except when Kirby’s carrying on. Then she barks and lunges as well. Together they outweigh me and my control over them at these moments is tenuous at best. So about four years ago, after an incident in which the poodles lunged at an elderly woman on the sidewalk and Pip grabbed her coat, I stopped walking them together. It seemed like the prudent thing to do.

I took to walking each dog separately in the morning, then again at night (though often my husband joins me in the evening and the four of us walk together). For four years, I was spending almost twice as much time walking dogs than perhaps was necessary. That’s time I could have spent building my organizing business. Or knitting. Or catching up on my sleep. But I did it out an almost martyr-like sense of obligation. I felt it wasn’t wise to walk the dogs together if I couldn’t control them.

The trouble with that philosophy is that I never stepped back to consider whether circumstances might have changed. I never once dipped my toe in the water to see if maybe I could actually handle my dogs. Four years is a long time in the life of a dog. They’ve matured. Pip’s now ten years old.

Then a dogsitter who is barely larger than me ignored my suggestion that she walk them separately. She successfully walked them together twice a day for several days. No incidents. She encountered nothing she couldn’t handle.

That was enough to get me to try it. And you know what? Nothing bad has happened.  I can actually control the two dogs, even when there’s another dog around. The poodles are slightly more calm. I’m slightly less scared. And we’ve had four years to practice what we do around other dogs.

I took what felt like a big risk walking the dogs together. And I succeeded. And now I’m kicking myself for not trying it earlier. Why did I stay on autopilot? I think it was fear, plain and simple.

This little lesson translates into so many other parts of life. It’s scary to try out new business models, but what if they take your business to the next level? It’s frightening to invest in new advertising opportunities, not knowing whether they’ll pay off. But they might pay off big. It’s scary to have an honest conversation with a partner, colleague or someone else you have a problem with, but isn’t it better than letting the problem fester?

Pip and Kirby (and our petsitter, Rebecca) taught me to step out of my comfort zone and try to let go of the fear. Next time I’m facing an enticing opportunity that I’m not quite comfortable with, I’m going to reflect on all the time I spent with those extra dog walks and consider that maybe the benefits outweigh the risks. And I’ll repeat my new mantra: Live, risk, and prosper.

Janine Adams is a professional organizer in St. Louis, Missouri. She blogs at www.peaceofmindorganizing.com/blog. Follow Janine on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/janinea

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Connections, Expectations and Surprises: Lab-Rat Wrap Up Part 2

Back in August, when I launched the new version of Someday Syndrome, I put out a call for people interested in getting mentored around their somedays. Expecting one person to step forward, I ended up with four, all at different points in their lives deals with different somedays.

Throughout the next three months, I gave the four weekly exercises which I then dicussed on the blog here.

During the process I learned a lot about these four brave souls and a lot about myself. I learned that we are all different and have distinct challenges, but at the same time some pretty basic things motivate us: fear, desire, happiness and comfort.

Thanks to the inaugral Lab-Rats, my own ideas around Someday Syndrome have undergone a transformation. I now see how even the same motivation (e.g., fear) can manifest itself in many different ways requiring different responses.

So thank you Urbane LIon, Sal,Brett & Crista. You’ve helped me grow and I’m pretty certain I’ve done the same for you.

And now I’ll leave you with a few words from Crista and from Brett.

Crista

When I signed up to do the Lab Rat Experiment, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I thought it sounded like a great idea to achieve a few of my long-buried somedays, but I hadn’t anticipated the need to dig as deep as I did to arrive at my answers.

Each week, Alex’s questions provoked a reaction. The first week, I thought about giving him a “surface’ answer that probably would have sufficed, but I decided that if I am going to do this, I’m going to jump in. I think that’s the thing with personal change. No one really knows how much you put into it – except for you.

When this process started, I definitely felt unsettled. Aside from me being away from my family for several weeks, I had to take a look in the mirror and ask, “What do I really want?”. I had to confront the fact that I was using my family as an excuse for not pursuing and achieving my someday dreams.

Sadly, I was placing most of the blame on my husband.

Through this experience, we confronted some of those issues and we’re now in a better place. We’re sharing our someday dreams as a couple, while making sure we are fulfilling what we need individually.

Someone contacted me this week after reading one of my posts on the blog because she thought she could really use “something like that”.Her life was at a place where she was feeling frustrated, impatient, and unfocused.

Quite simply, she didn’t feel like she was achieving the things she was meant to in her life and she felt stuck.

I realized that this was how I felt when I started the Someday Syndrome journey and I’m past that now. This is definitely not what I was expected when I signed up. Thank you Alex.

Brett

I can sum it up as “time well spent”.

I have learned a lot about myself, and I have learned a lot from the experiences shared by Alex, and by my fellow Lab-Rats.

Perhaps, more importantly, I feel friendship and connection with everyone who went through this, and that is a good thing.  It is nice to know that I am not alone in my quest – while the end goal may be different, we all push towards that special goal.

We will get there, because we know it is right for us.

I highly recommend that anyone who wants to turn “someday” into “today” should contact Alex for help.  It will be time well spent.

P.S. My post from last Tuesday Dedicate Yourself to Life, Not Work was included in the second round of the Personal Development, Personal Finance and Personal Health blog carnival, developed by Jeremy Day of Insight Writer and hosted this week by Momentor.

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Measuring the Changes: Lab-Rat Wrap Up Part 1

  • Someday Lesson: Experiments have little value unless you measure the results.

Since we’re wrapping up the inaugural Lab-Rat experiment, I wanted to find out what changed for the Lab-Rats as a result of the experiment. Next week we’ll do the final wrap up.

I wasn’t at all surprised by the responses. The Urbane Lion who pretty much lives someday-free had very little to say. Brett, who was already well on his way towards achieving his dreams added a bit more, as did Sal for whom this experiment confirmed that he’s on the right path.

Crista had the most to say on this topic. Of the four Lab-Rats, her life is in the most upheaval (she joined the experiment just as she was about to go back to school, causing a major change in family routines).

So, with any further ado, let see what the Lab-Rats had to say in answer to the following questions:

  • What’s one thing that has changed in your life because of this Lab-Rat experiment? Why?
  • If nothing has changed, why?

Urbane Lion

One thing for sure, these exercises have allowed me to reflect on my accomplishments and give myself some well deserved taps on the back and also allowed me to identify some of my weaknesses. I now know what areas of my life I need to work on.

I also know that I am not alone and that helps getting rid of the self pity.

Brett

To your simple question, comes a simple answer – that is not so simple, if you dig deeper.

Rather than simply urgency of thought, I feel urgency of action.

In other words, not just talking the talk, but more and more walking the walk. I can actually see what was once a someday becoming a today, in the not too distant future – and a lot of it seems to have been unfolding in the last couple of weeks. It is very exciting!

As to why – seeing what you did by example, knowing that I can do it too – I think that’s the key. Interacting with someone who has done it, and with other people who are in the middle of doing it.

It has been a very worthwhile exercise.

Sal

I would have to say that the biggest thing that has changed is that I am now quite a bit further in my freelance career. Since starting this experiment I have become a more frequent blogger and have started to team up with a few individuals to work on bigger projects.

It seems as though I have taken that large step instead of those little tip-toes which would have gotten me nowhere fast. I am now hurdling through some of the stages and it looks as though 2009 is going to be a big freelance year for me and I look to be able to bring in at least half of what I am making in my current job.

Things are unfolding more quickly than I can even imagine. Alex, your experiment to get us out of the someday syndrome is a complete success in my life. I am looking back at where I would have been now, had I just continued down the same someday path I was on. I am so far ahead of that now, the line looks like a dot.

Crista

I don’t know if this week’s exercise was a simple one – it took me two weeks to actually put my thoughts on paper. It has been a wild ride for me the last three months. I left my family for three weeks and re-discovered a little bit more about who I am, I returned to school full-time and I spoke my “somedays” out loud.

My greatest someday challenge is “I will get around to it someday”. Somewhere inside, I had a false assumption that as a mother (and wife), I was obligated to put everyone else’s needs and “somedays” ahead of my own. In fact, I would literally tell myself, I will get around to it someday, when the kids are older, when my husband isn’t busy at work, when, when, when… I always had an excuse.

I realized this when I first came across Alex’s blog and volunteered to be a Lab-Rat. This is part of the reason I volunteered.

There are two weeks that stand out for me. The first was the Pooh-Bear exercise where we were asked if we were too optimistic. Writing that post was a reality check for me because I realized I did indeed use optimism as an excuse for not making decisions. I continue to be an advocate of optimism, but since writing the post, I have been very aware of my tendency to avoid making decisions and procrastinating because of it.

Writing about procrastination and why we choose to be unhappy really had an impact on me as well. To think that fear could be masqueraded by optimism was a bit of an awakening. But then to think that I, Miss Optimism (as a friend calls me), could be procrastinating on life because deep down, I didn’t think I really deserved happiness, was challenging to accept.

I realized that I was postponing the things that made me happy and optimistically told myself, “Someday I will get around to what I really want.”

Guess what? This wasn’t making me happy, it was making me resentful.  I confronted some of my fears and made decisions I had been delaying for years.

Has it been a fun journey? No. And Yes. The process of digging deep and inviting change and discomfort into your life is never fun. However, the relationships you make along the way, and the rewards of getting through the challenge are incomparable.

My self-talk has changed. I have begun to create more boundaries around my optimism. If I seem too hopeful for too long, I ask myself the tough questions, including, “What does Crista really need and want?” I am also more aware of when I am delaying my own “somedays” for others.I still do it, because I think that is part of being a family, but I am putting a voice to some of the somedays I have, not only those of my family and friends.

Participating in the Lab-Rat experiment has been life-changing and I look forward to following the next Lab-Rats!

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Addicted to Change

While I’m away I’m dropping the Lab-Rats in a new set of mazes. We’re done for now with thought out, reasoned responses. Now we’re going for the first-thoughts – what comes up without taking time to consider the answers.

And just how am I doing that? By not giving the Lab-Rats the questions beforehand. They’re seeing this post for the first time with you. And their answers will appear in the comments.

Will they find the cheese at the end of the maze? That’s up to you to decide. I’m including you all in the experiment as well while I’m gone. Since I’m not putting together a summary of the Lab-Rat answers, how about you all give it a try for me?

And now to layout the labyrinth.

As I mentioned last week, I like to start things but have a hard time finishing them. My house in Toronto was without quarterround between the baseboards and the floor for years (almost right up until I moved). My post Change Junkie describes my love of switching things up all the time and why. And it includes how I deal with this desire to change all the time. So, once the Lab-Rats (and you) have read the post, they’ll come back and answer these questions:

  1. What types of change do you seek out?
  2. What types of change do you resist?
  3. How do you deal with either extreme (too much or too little change) the extreme threatens to take over your mindset?

Someday Lessons:

  • As I said above, I’m leaving the Someday Lessons up to all of you. Once you’ve seen the Lab-Rats’ answers, give me some Lessons you’ve derived fom them. Keep them short and snappy – and the best one may just find its creator rewarded.
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Practicing Flexibility to Remain Steady – Full Text Answers

Last week Brett mentioned that he acknowledged that there is a slim chance that he might not make the move to New Zealand – and this upset some of the readers. I get what he said – he meant that plans aren’t written in stone and we need to be at least slightly open to big and small shifts in our plans.

In my post, A Roudabout Way Home from September 2006, I experienced that in a small way – a supposedly simple trip home became an adventure. We knew what we wanted to do, but how we did it was suddenly up in the air, but because we were clear on what we wanted, things worked out in the end even if we had to be flexible about the plans to get it done.

Read the post then answer the following questions:

  1. How well do you prioritize under pressure?
  2. Can you think of a small situation where you had to make a last minute change of plans if you wanted to achieve a goal? How did you react?
  3. How does your reaction in the small situation relate to how you react to changes and/or detours in your big dreams?

Brett’s Response

1. I find that I can prioritize very well under pressure.  I’ve always believed that there isn’t much I can’t handle as long as the sun comes up tomorrow, and I am still alive.  I mean, I don’t like it when other folks throw a wrench into my plans, but there is always another way.  If it is a situation at work, for example, I just do the old 80/20 thing, and I will say, “well, what would happen if the person responsible for ‘project X’ was hit by a bus?  What would we do then?  We’d adapt our plans to suit.  Nothing is that important.”  At home, as long as my family and I are happy, safe and healthy, we can adapt.

2. Your post reminded me of something that happened to me back in the 90’s.  Two of my friends and I had driven into Toronto to see a music show, and we had an extra ticket as a fourth had other plans.  When we arrived at the venue, there was a simple sign on the door saying the show had been moved to some place in Scarborough.  We didn’t really know which way to go to best get there, and as we were walking back to our car, we talked about options.  A passerby overheard our conversation, and said, “hey, I know how to get there, but I don’t have a ticket”.

So – we gave him our extra ticket, and he accompanied us to the show.  We saw him many other times at other shows, which was kind of neat because we had made a friend.

2b. How did I react?  Well, we realized that we might not get to the show on time, and as we were discussing it (before we met that other person), we had decided we could either take a taxi or just go out for beers.  It wasn’t really a big deal, because it was just a fun night out.

3. I believe that my reaction in this situation shows me that there is always another way to achieve your bigger dreams.  There are always signs.  Much like my experience this week, when I met someone much like myself, but older, who had followed a career path much like mine, and is now living in New Zealand.  I have no doubt that he encountered many obstacles on his way, but he did it.  He got around those obstacles.  And I can do it too.  I think this was the universe giving me a sign.  I am listening to that sign, believe me…

Fear not, faithful readers of Alex’s blog – I am not giving up on my dream of New Zealand!  I am working on that move steadily and this week will be completing one more piece of the puzzle.

Crista’s Response

1. How well do you prioritize under pressure?
I was born to prioritize under pressure. There’s nothing like a deadline and a sense of urgency to strip away the nice-to-have, feel-good details that can make a wandering, big-picture mind doddle and look for excuses to procrastinate. A little pressure simply diminishes the shades of detail, creates focus and makes things black and white so I know what to do first and last. I should probably cite the submission of these posts as an example. I’m quite certain I’m always the last one to get them to Alex. I like to allow my thinking to percolate before committing myself to final thinking. What if I have a better thought that comes along? Although I am an under-pressure advocate, there are situations when I’m not my best under pressure and they almost always involve travel and too little sleep (and occasionally too much wine).

2. Can you think of a small situation where you had to make a last minute change of plans if you wanted to achieve a goal?
I am in the midst of my Someday. Yesterday I flew across the country to Victoria, BC to participate in a three-week residency at Royal Roads University. I left my husband at home with my five, eight and 10 year-old children. I will miss my son’s first day of kindergarten and my daughter’s 8th birthday. Yes, I was feeling a little stressed. And not because of the above-mentioned life events I was missing. (My daughter reminded me daily for a month!) Here comes my shallow side… I didn’t know what to pack! So, I decided to pack a little of everything and in doing so, I had a little whisper inside telling me, “You’re packing too much. Your bag will be overweight…” Of course, I ignored that little voice because I really wanted to take all three pairs of boots, my wedge sandals, three pairs of flip flops, running shoes (because the Victoria air might make me want to run), and two pairs of dancing shoes. Add to that some legal textbooks, about three pounds of really cute costume jewellery, four belts, summer clothes, fall clothes and clothes for the transition – I was overweight. Only I didn’t find that out until I got to the airport.

The whole family decided to send me off. The kids were up late and we left for the airport early. Not a good combination. After finally getting through the line-ups, the ticket-counter woman told me my bags were too heavy, one bag couldn’t go, and I would have to pay a $100 surcharge. She suggested I purchase another bag, split up some of the stuff and use the third one as a carry-on, eliminating some of the access in the process. I had less than 30 minutes to find a luggage shop in the airport and make my decisions about what stays and what goes. Huh? I had just spent two weeks debating that same question! (I could have used a professional organizer…)

3. How does your reaction in the small situation relate to how you react to changes and/or detours in your big dreams?
Sometimes a negative reaction in the small situations can cause me to “awfulize” what’s happening in the bigger picture and I lose sight of the small wins I’ve made along the way. At the airport I could have easily gone to a place where my mind was telling me that going back to school was a stupid idea. “Look at all the stress it was causing me and my family! What was I thinking? My whole trip is going to be a disaster…” I try not to go there because if I get too worked up, I KNOW my emotional state gets in the way of my rational thinking. (Check out Daniel Goleman on Emotional Intelligence). In my situation yesterday, I had three kids crying because they were going to miss mom, an exasperated husband who was trying to calm them down, I was already feeling anxious and guilty and everyone was tired. We squabbled for a bit under the pressure and then it was the woman from the ticket counter who snapped us out of it by telling us exactly what we needed to do to remedy the situation (and not pay $100). A little outside perspective was all I needed to get me back on track and focused on living the dream.  I was returning to school. Did I really need everything I packed? Priorities became clear: the great accessories came with me, the running clothes went home.

Urbane Lion’s Response

1. How well do you prioritize under pressure?
I tend to be a little lazy by nature. Unless the pressure is turned on, I’ll just take my own sweet time. But when the time comes to take action, I take control of the situation, prioritize the tasks at hand and action them. In fact, the decisions I make under pressure are probably better than the ones I would take if I had the time to think them over. I guess the 20 + years spent in the restaurant business helped me to make quick decisions.

2. Can you think of a small situation where you had to make a last minute change of plans if you wanted to achieve a goal?
I remember taking the boat out to New York City a few years ago. On the way back, LTR #1’s parents were to meet us in Montreal for 1 day. A mechanical failure in one of the locks on the South shore of Montreal caused us a 1 day delay. Although technically the trip to Montreal could be done in one day providing you start early and cruise at full speed until late at night, this was not an option with a young child on board and LTR #1 wouldn’t even consider it. Montreal was 2 days away by boat but only 45 min by car. The boat still needed to be in Montreal the next day. In the end, I asked my mother to drop my brother off on the boat drive the wife and child to a hotel in Montreal. My brother and I then pulled the extra long day cruise into Montreal and not only did we make the rendezvous, we also ended up having a real blast.

3. How does your reaction in the small situation relate to how you react to changes and/or detours in your big dreams?
No matter how carefully you plan ahead, life sometimes has a tendency to throw you a curve ball that you did not expect. You must be ready to momentarily put everything on pause and rethink your options and perhaps re-adjust your course. You must be ready to accept delays and detours in your route to your big dream. Although these are annoying, they are much better then the other option which is quitting!

Sal’s Response

When I am under pressure, I seem to prioritize a little easier and usually have a higher quality outcome from my actions. For instance, I have just started back to school online. In my first class we were to break up into teams and complete a project. Let’s just say the project was due on a Monday at midnight. On Sunday afternoon, we were not able to get in touch with one of our team members, who had only finished half of his part of the project. Not to mention the half that he did do wasn’t up to the standards of the group. Come Monday, two other members of the team stayed up till 11:30PM finishing up his part of the project as well as completing and putting the finishing touches on the entire presentation. Needless to say, we made a perfect score on the project, but had I not taken charge and prioritized the activities that still needed to be finished, we would have had an incomplete report.

I think that is probably the reason I procrastinate so much in all of my bigger dreams. When it seems like time is running out, I panic, flip out, beat my head against a wall a couple of times, then get down to work, figure out what needs to be done, and get at it like there is no tomorrow. This does pose a bigger problem with life dreams and goals. Unlike work where there is a specific deadline for items to be turned in, it seems like almost every life dream can be put off “just a little longer.”  With writing, I finally got fed up, had a pity party, invited all of my closest thoughts and feelings, finally got over their incessant ramblings and started a blog that has been going strong for almost a month now.

What I need to do is set specific times and dates when I would like things to get done, and put the same type of deadline pressure as a job, that way I can get the panic out of the way and get on with my life the way it was meant to be.

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Practicing Flexibility to Remain Steady

Last week Brett mentioned that he acknowledged that there is a slim chance that he might not make the move to New Zealand – and this upset some of the readers. I get what he said – he meant that plans aren’t written in stone and we need to be at least slightly open to big and small shifts in our plans.

In my post, A Roudabout Way Home from September 2006, I experienced that in a small way – a supposedly simple trip home became an adventure. We knew what we wanted to do, but how we did it was suddenly up in the air, but because we were clear on what we wanted, things worked out in the end even if we had to be flexible about the plans to get it done.

Here are this week’s questions for the Lab-Rats (and anyone else who wants to participate in the comments or on their own blog).

  1. How well do you prioritize under pressure?
  2. Can you think of a small situation where you had to make a last minute change of plans if you wanted to achieve a goal? How did you react?
  3. How does your reaction in the small situation relate to how you react to changes and/or detours in your big dreams?

Pressure Cookers

All four Lab-Rats felt they were good prioritizing under pressure in work situations (and in the Urbane Lion’s situation, he literally was a pressure cooker being a chef). The Urbane Lion admitted to laziness and said that sometimes he needs a little pressure applied to a situation before he manages to rouse himself to action – but once he starts, off he goes! Knowing how much of a planner and lover of calm the Urban Panther is, I wonder how you two deal with this enjoyment of pressure on your part, Lion. Maybe we’ll see a dual post on this topic soon?

Brett’s answer to the first question expressed my attitude towards changes: “there isn’t much I can’t handle as long as the sun comes up tomorrow, and I am still alive.” I call this the Mack Truck scenario: what would happen if you got hit by a Mack Truck tomorrow – would the world end? For you, yes it would. But for everyone else they’d adapt and move on.

Acting vs Reacting

It’s not surprising that I have a bunch of take-charge people here in this round of Lab-Rats, after all they did step forward and volunteer to expose their lives to the world at large. So when small things changes in plans happen, they tend to act, making quick plans and implementing them, or deciding to toss the plans out the window and enjoy the moment.

Sal and Crista added that emotional situations threw them off however, making prioritizing more difficult. Crista wrote:

Sometimes a negative reaction in the small situations can cause me to ‘awfulize’ what’s happening in the bigger picture and I lose sight of the small wins I’ve made along the way.

Adding emotion (and too little sleep or too much wine) to a situation takes away Crista’s ability to act and she ends up reacting. Thanks to her awareness of her Emotional Intelligence, however, Crista can usually avoid getting into a worked up state. However, with three young kids and a three-week trip across the country without them, the emotions are kind of hard to avoid. But I’ll let Crista tell you about that herself tomorrow.

Micro vs. Macro

Sal expressed the biggest difficulty bringing his ability to prioritize little things to coping with changes on a big scale, probably because the big things in his life are all tied to intense emotions, like desire and fear (concerning his writing mainly). He’s realized however, that if he looks at everything like a work or school project and applies a deadline to it, he removes some of the emotion from the situation and can act rather than react.

Brett’s relaxed attitude to changes in plans means he’s willing to entertain any possibility while still pursuing his dreams (which means, yes folks, he has no intention of ever giving up the New Zealand move).

Again, I feel Brett’s attitude best sums up a healthy attitude to dealing with changes in plans:

…as long as my family and I are happy, safe and healthy, we can adapt.

Someday Lessons:

  • While pressure helps get some people moving, it can paralyze others, especially if strong emotions are involved.
  • Change happens, often against our desire and without warning. If you don’t have a strategy to cope with it, you’ll drive yourself (and those around you) crazy.
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