So often in life, things don’t work out exactly as we plan. We may have a vision of what we want to achieve and we may try our hardest to account for all the little details. Yet sometimes, despite our best efforts to control the outcome, we are faced with unexpected hurdles along the way.
And what do we usually end up doing in the face of these unexpected challenges? Well, as I’m sure you can agree, for the most part, we tend to stress and worry about our best-laid plans being so cruelly laid to waste. And that worry often gets translated into unnecessary anger and bitterness at either ourselves or others, creating a downward spiral that makes an already bad situation worse.
But here’s the deal: It doesn’t have to be this way. You can take back your control and you can become more effective at dealing with unexpected problems as they arise. Here’s how…
1. Take a Step Back
Well, the first thing we need to do is take a step back from the situation.
Seek a distraction to take your mind off the problems.
Go for a walk while listening to music to prevent you from mulling over the issue at hand. Or meet up with some trusted friends and talk about anything other than what’s bothering you.
You could read a book or watch a movie or go for dinner. But whatever you choose to do, you MUST make sure that it is an activity that is UNRELATED to the situation so that you are able to afford yourself the mental space to create distance between you and the triggers you are facing.
2. Identify your Options
The next thing you’ll have to do is to objectively analyse the situation.
Now, in order to do this effectively, you need to consider yourself an observer, not a participant in the issue at hand. And, as an observer, you should seek out a quiet space where can sit down uninterrupted with your thoughts and answer the following questions:
- Can the obstacle be avoided?
- If the obstacle can be avoided:
- do you have sufficient time to course-correct?
- do you have sufficient resources to course-correct?
- is a course-correction worth your time and resources or would it make better sense to face the obstacle head-on?
- can the obstacle be viewed as an opportunity?
- If the obstacle cannot be avoided:
- can the obstacle be incorporated into the process, thereby making it better?
- what actions can we take to minimise the “damage”?
- how can we use the “damage” to our advantage?
And remember, when doing this analysis:
1. You have to answer these questions as an objective observer.
2. You have to be honest with yourself when answering these questions.
All too often, we blindside ourselves by not having the courage to be honest with ourselves because it is just easier to see the world not as it is, but as we wish it to be.
However, this does not mean that we should be blind to our subjectivity. If anything, we need to practice having the courage to face the “truth” about ourselves and our circumstances. And only then can we begin to reframe our outlook and decide on a clear and objective way forwards.
Obstacles are Opportunities in DisguiseLubaina Essack @LifeLessons_LE
3. Choose a Course of Action and Stick With It
So, now that you’ve given yourself a birds-eye view of the situation, the next thing you will have to do is look at your notes and decide on what you think is an appropriate course of action course.
You have to trust your judgement and your analysis and make an informed choice about what to do next. This is the action step. This is the step where you are actively trying to solve the problem at hand. You are not allowing yourself to react out of fear or anger or anxiety. And you are not allowing yourserself to stand still, hoping that the problem will go away by itself.
Rather, you are consciously choosing to TRUST YOUR JUDGEMENT, make a decision and then ACT on that decision.
But the trick is that once you’ve made your decision, you now have to COMMIT to the actions that follow. Once you make your decision, you cannot second-guess yourself. You have to TRUST in your choice and be willing to forgo all other potentialities while you act with faith and certainty in the direction of your decision.
4. Trust the Process
A very important thing that we all need to realise, and to remember, is that committing to a course of action DOES NOT equate to a guarantee of a successful outcome.
In other words, the process itself is independent of the outcome.
For example, if you want to go on vacation and you choose to fly rather than drive, you can do everything perfectly well – book your flights, get to the airport on time, pack your bags well and get your itinerary in order. But if the plane crashes on the way to your destination, that outcome is COMPLETELY INDEPENDENT of the plans you made to get on the plane in the first place.
Or maybe you need to get to an interview at 9:00am and to make sure you beat the traffic, you make a decision to leave 30min earlier and to take the subway rather than your car. You’ve accounted for the most important variables and you have made your plans accordingly. Based on your information, your decision is sound. However, if there is a power outage at the subway station and you miss your appointment, that outcome is independent of the plans you made.
So, you may ask, what’s the point in making plans, if the outcome is never truly in our control? Well, because careful analysis and planning will drastically improve your odds of achieving success compared with no plans at all.
Furthermore, by making sound plans and sticking with them, you always find yourself moving in a forwards direction. And, if you’re faced with more hurdles along the way, you repeat the process and figure out your next right move by analysing the situation as an objective observer.
And then, you take action and repeat this process until you reach your outcome, whatever it may be.
5. Release the Outcome
I hope that by now, you’ve had a lightbulb turn on with regards to the final step – choosing to RELEASE the outcome, knowing that it is not in your control but trusting in the process anyway.
And it is only when you have reached this point, that you will be able to act authentically and in alignment with what you want to achieve, neither encumbered by the fear of failure, nor immobilised by the glory of success.
Release the outcome and watch miracles unfold…Lubaina Essack @LifeLessons_LE
So whenever you find that your plans don’t go as planned, accept the situation, embrace the opportunities and focus on the journey, not the destination!