Sometimes things don’t go as planned. And sometimes the best plans don’t work out. As far as we can see into the future– which isn’t very far at all – we cannot see the unexpected. Even those “what ifs” we do prepare for are not always what actually happens.
What do we do when things fall apart, break down, don’t work, get interrupted, or don’t even get started? What should we do when life throws us not just a curve ball, but throws up a heart-rending, mind-numbing, career-stopping, belief-crumbling wall that seems too wide and too tall to overcome?
The term “blind-sided” may be the best description, and it can be rough. More than rough.
Obviously we need to assess the situation(s), regroup, deal with our emotions, and gather our wits. Allow me to offer some suggestions about doing just that, or when not to do that.
If you are physically ill, that is not a good time to make major decisions. No matter our experience, being sick will always compromise our thinking to some degree, some times more than others. Wait until you really feel better before starting the process of assessing and regrouping.
Being in some emotional upheaval is likewise going to effect our thinking, usually in a negative way. That’s when we tend to make knee-jerk decisions that we may regret later. Being able to recognize when it’s emotions driving our decisions and not reason is a good thing, although not always easy. There may be certain times it may be necessary to allow emotion to guide us, just as there are times it is necessary to not allow it. But perspective that comes from experience– whether our own or someone we trust – is needed during these times. One of the first things to remember is you are not the only person to have this happen.
Are you worn out, exhausted, spent, burned out, more tired than you’ve ever been? When you’re well-rested things don’t look as bad, and you’ll find that most troubles will still be there the morning following a good night’s sleep. And while those troubles may make sleeping seem difficult, it’s always – always – worth getting some rest and relaxation. Many times getting some real rest is a good first step; when your body is rested your mind just works better. I knew a man for years who, when receiving bad news, would take a nap! We can’t all sleep at our job (and he didn’t, either) but as soon as he was able he took a nap, even if it was just 15 or 20 minutes. It relieved some of the immediate stress, and somehow it helped him process things and get a better perspective on the situation. It sounds a little odd, but I watched my father do it all of my life until his death. The point is, find what works for you. But being rested is vital to our decision-making ability.
Are you stressed? Some people can handle and work under stress better than others. The thing here is to learn to recognize your stress limit, as well as how to deal with the things that really stress you out. Sometimes we can just avoid stressful situations, but that isn’t always our choice. Then you need to learn how to relieve stress and not let it accumulate and over-whelm you. One person realized that taking a vacation for 2 or 3 weeks didn’t help reduce stress over the rest of the work year, so they started taking “mini-vacations” 2 or 3 days at a time spread out over the year. And they were not “working vacations” — they’re gone, incommunicado as much as possible with work or business.
It is said Napoleon would only read his mail every seven days. Within that time, many problems which were included in the mail would usually resolve themselves, and would not require his attention. The ones that remained he considered serious enough to handle personally. I don’t recommend doing that in this age of instant information and the world wide web, but the wisdom here is first deal with what is really important, relegate or postpone less important matters, and learn to recognize those things that will most likely resolve themselves.
St Francis of Assisi said “First, do what is necessary; then, do what is possible; and suddenly, you will be doing the impossible.”
Hopefully these things will help, even when blind-sided, make those unexpected things more manageable and less stressful.