I am paraphrasing a bit, but I once read, “Life rarely hands you challenges at convenient times.” Well, isn’t that the truth!?
A client was planning to visit her parents, who live in another country. Sadly, before her trip, her father died unexpectedly. Hastening her travel plans, whilst simultaneously delaying one of her 2022 goals – to start a job search and tender her notice of resignation and possibly relocate.
I thought of this statement.
This week I read an article in Business Insider about a successful writer on ‘The Office’ who was laid off after the writer’s strike and ended up selling shirts at Macy’s. While he wasn’t terribly surprised by the layoff (given what was happening in his industry in 2007 and 2008), he was amazed with how long it took to land another writing gig.
Again, I thought of this statement.
Clearly, I could continue with more examples of when life got in the way of someone’s best laid plans and goals. Heck, you no doubt have a handful of examples yourself.
Sometimes the loss or interruption catches you and me completely off-guard. Other times, it may have been expected, but the impact was way more severe than you imagined or were prepared for. In other words: inconvenient!
And when life gets in the way, you usually experience three shocks:
The first shock is the triggering event itself.
Whether it was sudden or somewhat expected. Whether it’s a death, loss of a job or major client, or breakup/divorce. It’s a loss and is painful and calls for a period of transition. And can throw you into an emotional frenzy.
The second shock is to your finances.
Maybe you have to take a job you never envisioned yourself working. Maybe you have to dip into savings. Maybe you have to prematurely sell an asset. May you have to go into (or deeper into) debt. Or, maybe you have to use your money in a way you weren’t expecting.
The third shock is to your plans and goals.
You can’t continue doing what you were to move forward on your plans and goals. You simply don’t have the emotional, time, energetic or financial capacity, so everything is brought to a halt.
While you can’t avoid these shocks, it is important to remember this:
Now, the setback may prompt you to reevaluate your plans and goals, and you may change them as a result. But, the loss or interruption itself, doesn’t have to be the reason why this happens.
Eventually, my client will be able to kick-start her job search and maybe move. Hopefully, it won’t take a couple of years as it did for the writer I mentioned. But she, like you and me, can’t usually control the time it takes for what we want to come to fruition. However, there are things she can control and do.
And guess what? They happen to be the same things you, too, can do when challenging times take their seat at your table and you don’t just feel the loss, but are at a loss, too.
As you cope with the shocks of a loss or interruption, regardless of the reason, remember to:
Take care of yourself.
This can mean a variety of things. But when life is demanding even more of you is when you really need to put yourself first. Counterintuitive perhaps. But, it works!!
Give yourself permission to reconnect with what sparks your creativity and joy.
As the writer, Anthony Q. Farrell wrote in the Business Insider article, while he was working at Macy’s, he started working on his own independent creative endeavors and writing projects. They ran the gamut and eventually led to a project with Nickelodeon, which led to other opportunities…and him being able to leave Macy’s.
Reduce your commitments to the absolute essentials.
This is when protecting your bandwidth becomes critical.
I will never be the person saying you can find something to be grateful for in whatever may be the reason for your loss or interruption. NEVER!
But, I will remind you that even giving thanks for the sun shining or being able to get out of bed or having a piece of dark chocolate counts.
Accept your new reality.
A new reality emerges out of the loss or interruption.
Embracing this new reality is rarely an easy thing to do, but doing so leads to a depth of clarity that isn’t accessible when you’re pining for the past or wanting your reality to be different than what it is.
Plus, the quality of your choices and behavior are different when you’re operating from a place of acceptance and clarity.
When life gets in the way of your plans and goals, it will likely happen at the most inconvenient time. I hope today’s piece strengthens your tool-box for practicing flexibility as you get back on track, and helps to stabilize your foothold.