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The Important Question You’re Not Asking

What do you do, when the wheels fall off?

You have a plan, and it’s a great plan! The fact that you’re investing time to grow in your personal development journey means you are lightyears ahead of where you started. Bravo!

 So, why does it feel like life is getting in the way of your potential?

This is how I used to feel, every. Single. day.

 I’d wake up each morning full of possibility! I had this beautiful vision of how my day would unfold:

  • Quiet cup of coffee and gratitude before the family woke up
  • Healthy breakfast with my daughter and then getting ready for daycare
  • Quality conversation with my husband
  • My skin, hair, and outfit would be on point and I’d look as good as I feel, maybe better!
  • I’d work through my to-do list at the office with no distractions and everyone would be impressed by my attention to detail, quality, and my wonderful attitude
  • I’d get done with work a little early, pick up my beautiful baby girl, and go start dinner at home
  • We’d have a wonderful night together as a family, with no technology

Okay I’m going to stop there… who already sees what the problem is?

At which bullet point did you start thinking: Girl, life doesn’t happen that way!?

Like the scene in a scary movie where you say, “Turn around! He’s right behind you!”, my plan was obviously meant to be ruined by the monster of reality.

This won’t surprise you, but let me tell you what really happens some days:

  • We ran out of coffee creamer and the mug I really wanted was dirty, so I was as bitter as my black coffee.
  • My daughter woke up screaming right after I burned myself with my second sip.
  • She threw Cheerios on the floor, which I stepped on all morning. She only wanted to drink milk, no water, no milk!
  • My husband overslept and hardly said a word to me before he left, shattering my already sensitive ego.
  • I spent 30 minutes straightening my hair and it looked awful. I’ll never get that time back!
  • There was an accident on the way to work and I showed up 30 minutes late. Had I not straightened my hair, I’d still have been on time.

I’m not even to work yet and look at where we are. Does any of this sound familiar?

Is it possible to show up the way you want to, even on days like this? Yes.

A failure to plan, is a plan for failure.

Did you know Benjamin Franklin said something along those lines? So, someone knew the key (pun intended, I hope someone got that!), more than 250 years ago!

Okay I’ll bite. So, what do you do, when the wheels come off?

Remember that great plan you already have for your day, for your life? Write it down. Feel silly writing it down? I wish you wouldn’t, but I get it! Thinking through your plan works too, it’s just a bit more thorough on paper.

After every line or goal, spend some time (seconds or minutes will still be helpful!) thinking through, what does the best version of me look like when things go wrong?

This will look different for everyone, and it should. Your reactions and course corrections will vary depending on the priority you put on each item in your day.

Examples:

We were out of coffee creamer and my favorite cup is dirty?

  • Use milk and sugar if we’ve got it and give a new mug some love. Maybe this can be my “You can’t stop me, mug!”. If we have no cream or sugar, treat yourself to a cup on your way to work. Maybe this is the universe telling me to switch up my morning.

My daughter woke up early screaming?

  • Being a toddler is so frustrating. Maybe her molars are coming in, maybe she had a nightmare, maybe she doesn’t feel well. Fill up her cup as many times as she asks, and cheerios can be swept up easily. Make sure to get down to her eye level and hug her goodbye fiercely, especially if she resists. She’s one of life’s biggest blessings. Always count to 3 (who has time for 10 with toddlers?), and then react.

My husband shattered my already sensitive ego this morning?

  • I wouldn’t be happy if I overslept either. I’m lucky I’m a morning person so I’d roll with it much better. If only he had thought through the best way to handle situations like this (wink, wink!). Maybe I’ll give him an hour or two, send him a nice text and see if he’s free for lunch.

I’m 30 minutes late for work?

  • If you’re going to get wet, you might as well go swimming. Grab a cup of coffee, a breakfast sandwich, whatever you need to restart your morning. Think about the worst ways this could impact your day, and how you’ll show up for them. Then, if you walk in the office and no one notices you’re late, you can be super relieved. A lot of us travel in the same traffic, so it’s possible other colleagues are dealing with this too. Extend them some grace. They may not be as well balanced as you! Also, aren’t you so glad the accident is not you! Say a kind prayer for the poor souls who are having that kind of morning!

Practice makes perfect this easier and more natural.

I’ve been practicing this most mornings before I start my day, and I feel proud of the impact it’s made in my relationships and overall happiness.

Who would have thought that I would be the calm and rational one in situations? My husband sure didn’t! Honestly, I don’t handle surprises well. I’m an extremely organized person who loves lists and details. When I extended those details to prepare for obstacles, there is suddenly very little that falls in the “unexpected” category.

Today

It’s Friday, we made it!

Here are the obstacles I am facing as I write this:

My husband came to bed at 2am because our toddler didn’t sleep well. He was trying to let me sleep when he got frustrated to his wits end and was very loud coming to bed. It woke me up and he angrily said, if you don’t go back to bed right now, my exhaustion is for nothing!

My best friend is coming to visit from back home! Yay! She was originally arriving Saturday night… then at the last minute she changed it to Friday night… then last night they decided to leave early, so they’ll be here before I even get home from work today. We needed until Saturday night to get everything ready!

I have Monday-Wednesday next week off for visitors and my daughter’s 2nd birthday! My boss however, just imposed a deadline by next week, which is pretty much today really. It’s unreasonable and could threaten my time with family and friends who traveled 12 hours, and some multiple flights, to be here. We haven’t had visitors in over 6 months.

Here’s how I’m rolling with it, thanks to my new mentality:

I woke up at 4am today so I could get ready, write, and get my daughter ready and to daycare without waking up my husband. I’m totally prepared to react if she wakes up now, even though my ideal plan is for her to sleep until 6:30am.

I stayed up an hour later cleaning last night, and while the house isn’t “deep cleaned” like I’d like, it looks pretty nice. The garage will hide what we haven’t had a chance to organize yet. (We’re doing some minor home updates.) Also, she’s my best friend! We’ve been friends since we lived at home, in crappy college apartments, and now we both have kids, so I KNOW she gets it!

As for work, my priorities are clear. Family comes first, and I work to live, not live to work. So, I’ve come in a little early and worked through lunch since the deadline was imposed. I honestly went into work for a couple hours in an evening and regretted it. I don’t like to sacrifice family time for anything.

I will deliver to the deadline imposed, but it will reflect the best work I could accomplish in the time I dedicated to it.  That will have to be okay. Done, is better than perfect. Also, I’m hopeful feel my “done”, will probably still meet, if not exceed, the expectation.

We could have really used some clarity around this project but due to meetings and workload we weren’t able to even speak to one another about it. I’ll assume this request is coming from a place of wanting to help me develop, even though it’s a deadline moved up 2-3 weeks.

Final words…

Chase those goals! Live that dream! Design your best life!

Now that you have the one question needed to ensure you maneuver around obstacles with grace, you’re unstoppable.

I can handle whatever life throws at me today (still knocking on wood though!), and when 5pm hits, I’m in family and best friend mode until next Thursday morning. I refuse to let stress about work, the cleanliness of my home, and the words of frustrated but loving people, make me act outside of my desired way to show up.

2 thoughts on “The Important Question You’re Not Asking

  1. Awesome! AWESOME! AWESOME! Writing. My most favorite part of this post is when you mentioned “A failure to plan is a plan for a failure.” That is one of the greatest thing I ever heard all day (well except when my wife say I love you). Anyways, always plan so you know how to attack your day. Even it doesn’t go the way you want to go at least you tried.

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post!

    Like

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