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Weekly Thought - 82 - Be Prepared

I'm a planner. I like checklists and itineraries and schedules. I like being on time, can't stand being late and have no patience for those that are. Give me a map and I'll plod along, one foot in front of the other, until we reach our destination.

Don't ask me to stop or detour.

Of course, life isn't always so easy. In fact, lately it seems like all my finely tuned plans have been turned upside down. Just like the old saying goes: We make plans and God just laughs.

These days, you have to be able to "go with the flow." You can't let fluctuating plans throw you into a panic. Minor changes (like switching the date of a meeting) and major changes (like company changes) happen nearly every day. And sometimes, even a seemingly minor change of plan can have a frustratingly huge impact.

I decided recently that I had to learn, once and for all, how to handle changes in plans with grace and poise, and not let such changes distract me and make me lose focus. Now, when someone throws a wrench my way, I have a calculated strategy with which to approach it. A plan to deal with broken plans, if you will.

Yes, I'm a little neurotic. (Ok..maybe more than a little...) Yes, it doesn't always work the way I want it to.

But the journey is as important as the destination in this case.

If you find yourself in a situation where plans are fluid and you're having a hard time keeping focused, you might want to try one of the following techniques, gleaned and cultivated from a number of articles and blogs recently.

Give Yourself Permission to Be Annoyed
Set a time limit. Ten minutes, maybe twenty minutes. In my case, months (I know. I'm working on it).

During this period of time, complain all you want about how frustrating this change of plan is, how inconsiderate people are, how impossible this change will be to accommodate. Get it all out. But stick to your time limit. When it's over, it's over.

No more venting; it's time to get focused again.

Find Wisdom in the New Plan
So, the beautifully calculated plan you created went up in smoke like a good cigar and, in its place, there's a new plan. Oh, it's probably not fully fleshed out yet but you can see the outline of it. Find a way in which this new plan is better than the old one. Make up a reason if you have to. "I've always wanted to see Sheboygan. I'm so glad they moved the location of the conference." (I look forward to your letters......)

Recognize the Limits of Your Control
For most of us, the frustration with changed plans is that we feel we're careening out of control. But, the reality is, we can't control everything and everyone. When a decision is out of your control, it doesn't help matters to let it steal your energy.

If you have no control, throw your hands in the air and ride the roller coaster. Acceptance is your only choice and it's healthier for your state of mind and being. As a friend recently noted, "The blood type of a pessimist is always B-Negative."

Embrace the Control You Have
If nothing else, you have control over yourself and your reaction to the change of plans. It might not seem like a lot, but it's all you need. You can choose to react in a calm, poised and graceful manner or you can choose to freak out.

Yes, you do have that option. But, consider this; you can choose to find solutions to make the new plan work or you can choose to rail against the change. Make productive choices. It affects more people than just you. Believe it.

Focus on the Next Step
Don't try to think of every little thing that this change of plan will impact. Just think of the next step. What is one thing that you can do to feel more comfortable with the situation?

Don't try to re-evaluate the big picture right now. Just take one step and then, focus on the next one. Before long, you'll be able to step back and look at everything with a level head.

Over the past few years, many people have faced some mighty big wrenches thrown in their plans. Some experienced layoffs just months away from retirement. Others faced losing their homes due to overwhelming debt.

Plans are great, but we shouldn't ever get too comfortable with them. We can't predict the future and there's ample proof of that everywhere around us these days.

I think it's a little more prudent to be prepared so we can cope with changes as they happen-with grace and poise-and stay focused on moving forward....onward and upward.

Thanks for reading.