The weather is blossoming into springtime. Hooray! I’m so ready. I want some warm temperatures and outdoor living. Bring it on. I want to plan things. I want to plan trips, and vacations, and even just a dinner with friends. Yet, it seems the world has gone crazy and I can’t focus on my normal life. Fears of both the coronavirus and its effects in the stock market keep surfacing in my already overloaded brain. Hello??? Give me back some normal! How on earth do you plan your life when the world’s gone crazy?
Even with my brain fog, I have to keep dragging my thoughts back from catastrophic images. What about my elderly dad who lives far from me? How do I keep my kids safe even in other countries? I have friends with careers in the oil and gas industry who are on edge with the tanking market, as well as family who work in the medical field who have been continually stressed for a while.
Let’s start with this:
Often we need to be reminded that we really don’t and never did control much in our lives. Accidents happen. Plans change. Parents get ill. All require our adaptation. So we change our plans when we need to.
Society has somehow seduced us into believing that we can orchestrate our lives from our cell phones. We bank, watch movies, map trips, take photos, and plan meals all from our phones. We think we control it all.
Then a virus, or a world event like this, happens, the world shuts down, and we realize how little in our lives we actually control.
How do we ‘deal’ then?
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Plan with what you can control.
I’m not sure why we are all frantic trying to find toilet paper. I guess if we’re stuck inside for a couple weeks it will be good to be stocked up. If you can’t find toilet paper today, odds are it will be restocked in a couple days. And, if you were to run out, (worst case scenario) I’m betting you have friends and neighbors who will come to your rescue. You would do the same for them, right?
First crisis averted.
Now, if you’re planning a summer trip, what can you control today? Well, you can control your vacation dates. The trip logistical plans themselves can change and evolve in the next month or so. You don’t have to book today. You can control where you go. Perhaps stay closer to home and plan for a car trip.
You can plan what you’ll do if things calm down and travel advisories lift. You can also make a plan if they don’t. Will you still travel? Visit somewhere closer to home?
If you’re like me, the goal was initially to make some memories with your loved ones, right? The place is not so important.
You can control when you’ll go, just maybe not where….yet. Plan with what you know today. Tomorrow you will plan with what you know then.
Plan to crush fear.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned the last few years it’s this: the news media usually gets things wrong. You don’t have to listen.
If all they frantic horror becomes too much, just bypass all the rhetoric and go straight to websites that only report numbers and regional situation awareness.
You can control the intake of information. If you need to turn off the TV to limit the mainstream media and sources of fear-mongering, do it.
With the world spinning like it is today, and information morphing and evolving literally by the hour, how do we step out of fear mode?
We control what goes into our brains. We live in today, only. Tomorrow never comes, so we can’t live in a world of unreality.
We also can’t live in the world of ‘what-ifs’. My secret sauce for jumping off the ‘what-if’ merry-go-round is simply this: go down the worst-case-scenario road. Just visit there but don’t move there.
If you can’t bring your brain back from thinking about what might happen, let’s just assume that it does happen. Just for a minute. What happens when you lose your job, or you’re faced with a death, or illness? When you’re forced to think through your options, you often realize that you can make it through them just fine. You find you are stronger than you believed you were.
While I don’t often like to dwell in the fictional world of worse cases, sometimes allowing yourself to travel that road dispels the fear of the worst happening.
Plan to make a new plan.
Always being reactionary sometimes can be exhausting. This is true. But remember that being continually adaptable usually comes as but a season.
Remember when you brought your babies home from the hospital? Your whole world suddenly revolved around adapting to their needs. We expected it. We planned for it. We planned for the expectancy of not being able to plan.
There will come other seasons where this is necessary again. Our loved ones need us to care for them. Or, we even may need to care for ourselves and everything else must stop.
We pause, regroup and make a new plan when we have new information.
The planning just takes on a different purpose.
When events happen that cause us to regroup, it helps to plan to have a new plan. Perhaps we save more money than we anticipated so we can buy tickets closer to the time of departure. More expensive, yes, but also planned for.
We can actually plan to be crazy for a time, just like we did in those baby days.
Plan to be disappointed.
This is perhaps the Number One lesson in Adulting 101. You will be disappointed. Life is just like that. You plans may be crushed and your goals and hopes will faceplant in the dirt.
Welcome to real life.
It will be ok.
We learn from disappointment. We get up and begin again.
Sometimes disappointment is God’s way of redirecting us to a much better path. But we have to wipe our puffy,crying eyes, put on the big girl panties and get going. The road may be different than we thought, but no less beautiful.
If we’re stuck in the quicksand of disppointment, we miss all the beauty of the road we’re given.
Vacations may get canceled. Trips will need to be postponed. Cruises may be diverted. It all happens.
And, we adapt. We don’t dwell in disappointment.
Plan to seize the opportunity of every day.
If your plans are being changed these days, let’s see the changes as gifts. When your travel has been grounded, you’ve got more time at home to take care of tasks you’ve been putting off.
If your 401K is looking dicey (don’t look if you don’t have to), see the lowered stock market as an opportunity to buy at basement prices. Yay!
Seize the day!
Let’s see our diversion of change as an opportunity for adventure. Surprises are fun if we strive to see them that way!
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