By Renita Kalhorn
One of my clients has set some ambitious business development goals for himself. Recently, his elderly parents were in a serious car accident and he has been devoting his weekends to visiting them in the hospital and taking care of the details of their daily lives. On our weekly call, he said “the weekend was a wash” and he hadn’t been able to get as much done as he wanted.
His expression made me wonder: If the weekend was “a wash” did that mean it just didn’t count? When things aren’t going as anticipated, it’s still your life, isn’t it – or is it just a detour until you’re able to get back on track?
Many of us have preconceived notions of how the events of our lives should unfold — relationships, work promotions, the morning commute – and it can be maddening when they don’t follow the master plan or take longer than expected. But who’s to say that, in each particular instance, your life is not unfolding just as it’s meant to? Whether traffic is gridlocked, you’re sidelined by illness or your new career is off to a halting start, are you savoring the way things are or just biding your time until things get back to “normal”?
Okay, “savoring” may be a bit of a stretch when the doctor is running two hours late and you’re in the waiting room with a restless toddler. But here are a few questions that may help you take the unexpected in stride:
• Can I do anything to change the situation? If so, then do it. If not – if you’re on the train and it’s not moving – why not recognize that you’re doing the best you can and relax…unless you enjoy feeling anxious and stressed? So much of our suffering comes less from the actual pain of an experience than from feeling resistance to the way things are.
As success coach John Kanary says, “I was asking myself why I was having these obstacles in my life. Then I suddenly became aware that these obstacles were my life, and I began to enjoy them.”
• What’s the rush? Likewise, much of our stress comes from worrying about how much we have to do and whether we’ll get it done rather than the difficulty of any one task. Sometimes I’ll find myself racing breathlessly through my to-do list, feeling anxious as I’m folding laundry! But frantic rushing and thinking about how much I have to do means I’m never really in the moment, enjoying what I’m actually doing. More to the point, it doesn’t help me finish any faster.
And, in some cases, maybe it shouldn’t matter exactly when you finish. My sister has a three-year-old son with whom – as with all toddlers – everything takes longer, and she finds herself feeling frazzled because she isn’t able to get through her errands efficiently. On the other hand, she knows that this time in her son’s life will only come around once. If you’re in a similar situation, why not ask yourself, ‘What’s the rush?’, scale back your to-do list and enjoy?
• What if it were a game? When playing a game – whether basketball, poker or Pictionary – we expect there to be challenges for us to overcome with strategy, skill and/or knowledge. So why are we taken aback when unexpected hurdles arise in “real life”? If you’re sidetracked by the delayed flight, malfunctioning computer, stomach flu or [fill in the blank], why not put on your game face, re-assess your strategy and make the best of a situation gone awry?
No less a game-player than Donald Trump said, “Winners see problems as just another way to prove themselves.”
At the end of the day, everything that happens in your life is your life. Whether you enjoy it all or not lies in your perception.
Renita T. Kalhorn is a personal performance coach who specializes in helping entrepreneurs and executives find their personal “tipping point.” Subscribe to In The Flow, her FREE monthly newsletter and receive a complimentary Special Report, Get Your Flow On! 21 Simple Techniques to Banish Tedium, Reduce Stress and Inspire Action at www.intheflowcoaching.com
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