In a culture that treats time as a commodity shuffled and contorted into calendar Tetris, our ability to handle a change in plans has become a valuable skill.
November has been a big month for me. Workshops, courses, classes, travel, collaboration meetings, applications, and projects galore. It was so hard to keep up with that I went old school and printed a November calendar to stick to the fridge to track my whereabouts. So when a bunch of plans all began to crumble around me one by one, I began to panic. Cancellations, changed minds, new needs thrown in the mix. I started to feel thrown off. Frazzled. Side swiped. Unsure of when the heck I was going to reschedule, or if opportunities had simply been lost once and for all. It had the potential to completely derail what I had committed to treating as a powerful month.
A change in plans fucks with our control centre. Our neatly organised expectations. We begin to clamber to set it all “right” again, ensuring we please everyone in the process. The time suddenly gifted back to us never feels quite right as our mind is still fixated on what we expected to be doing at that moment. Simultaneously disappointed that plans didn’t go ahead, and guilty that we’ve not used this surprise time more effectively. Completely freaked out by the flow that has replaced our fastidious control.
Honestly, I still feel a bit flighty but these 4 responses have helped keep the wheels from completely falling off;
The change in plans may not be our choice, but our response is. If things don’t work out exactly as we planned, that’s OK. We have to let it be OK else we react and dig our heels in to stay metaphorically (and physically!) stuck in the circumstance. Respond from a place of creative problem solving not critical firefighting. Perhaps it means taking a different approach, or taking a break altogether and doing something completely different to what was planned. I find it helpful to literally think of pivoting or ricocheting off course to untether myself from the previous expectation. For me yesterday my pivot meant leaving my home office to work at a café and get some lingering “to-dos” off my plate.
Physically move your body to release the energetic grip held on the plans gone awry. I cannot recommend this highly enough. Physical activity circulates blood and oxygen around the body, clears the mind, refreshes our energy levels, and heightens our mood. The act of being in motion will symbolically help shed any feels of stagnation or stuckness caused by a roadblock in your plans.
If we were to simply pivot and move and not address the plans affected we’d be a bundle of loose ends and abandoned goals. Commit to taking at least one specific action to bring the plan/s back onto the horizon. Reschedule a meeting, send the proposal to the next vendor, research an alternative venue, approach another candidate, or ask your network for another recommendation.
Get curious and explore what your reactions and responses indicate about you. Does it show that you are quick on your feet? Or perhaps that you are deeply affected by sudden stress? Do you panic to please everyone? Are you quick to judge and criticise others? Do you see change as equal to failure? Use the change in plans as a chance to reflect on your emotional, energetic and psychological behaviour.
p.s. If a plan has been cancelled and there is little immediate fallout, then add THANK as your final step and give your calendar a kiss because you’ve been given a gift of TIME! What are you going to choose to do with it?