The best laid plans vs. life

The best laid plans… ah yes. Those great plans we have. And then life happens. It’s a challenge for all of us at some point. How can we be prepared to cope?

It is not enough to know ourselves. To be prepared for life we need to be compelled to develop our personal best by practicing life skills that in driving change within us can change our interactions and influence in the world in a meaningful way.

After all, even without disruption, those best laid plans are just that, only plans.  It is in the execution that we discover and enjoy the best experience.

When we master life skills within our daily practices that allow us to cope with disruptions and detours we are laying a firm foundation for personal success.  A key word reference in that statement is skills.  True skill (mastery) develops when we practice something relentlessly in order to do it well.  Coping skills are no different.

Let’s consider some questions and situations to bring focus to this:

How resourceful are you when something does not work as planned in your day?  Someone does not show up for a meeting.  You burn dinner.  Your printer won’t print.  How do you put that “new found time” to work? How do you transform disappointment and frustration into something else? How do you change gears and get the job done another way?

How value sensitive are you when disruptions come that matter more than what you had planned? A child needs your attention. Are you able to see beyond an interruption to need? A friend calls and needs your shoulder. Can you balance values and time? A colleague needs your help. Are you able to serve first?

How agile are you in shifting your mental focus?  Are you mentally and physically present? Does the disruption feel more like a distraction? To you? To the other person?

How resilient are you in getting back on track?  The alarm didn’t work and now you’re late. How do you handle it? That phone call with a friend took an hour of your time. How do you re-enter the planned schedule?

These are all life skills that are formed in our day to day encounters and experience. How we handle these scenarios is a preview of how we’ll handle the more significant disruptions.  Our life will go the way that our days go.  

When you think about the last few days, focus in one 3 or 4 moments when one of the above situations or something like them happened.  Replay that situation as a mind movie and consider how you could have improved or enhanced the outcome. Determine how you can be mindful of those options when the situation reoccurs (because it will!).

As we wrap up, here are some thoughts from a few people with experience in life’s coping skills to inspire and help you in your quest.

“In the long run, we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”  -Eleanor Roosevelt

“Skill to do comes of doing.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It’s not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what’s required.” -Winston Churchill