How To Deal With A Change Of Plans

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Following Content Also Features as a Guest Blog Post from Practice Balance.

“Failing to plan is like planning to fail”

You want to stay healthy, but you don’t have a lot of time. When you go to the gym, do you show up with a workout in mind, or do you aimlessly wander around wasting time while you decide what to do?

You want today to be productive. Do you set out with a list of objectives, or do you begin your day by reacting to emails and social media?

Planning makes sense in a lot of areas of life. In all honesty, I could be better about planning. If I learned some lessons in personal productivity, batched my time and mapped out my days better, maybe I’d write more blog posts!

But as any mom knows, you can’t plan everything.

The Plan

It was a Sunday, and we decided we’d make the trek down to our awesome gym. Because it’s on the other side of town, the idea was to make a day of it: workouts/kid play, sauna, lunch, pool…

I went to work behind the scenes of the morning’s breakfast activities to organize things as best as I could. In pure super-mom fashion, I meticulously made snacks, packed sunscreen and swimsuits, even remembered my flip flops for the sauna.

Then things slowed to a crawl. Aspen decided to throw a tantrum while getting dressed. And not a small tantrum, a big one. The kind with breath-holding and ugly crying and kicking… followed by lots of hugging. Then Trent told me he was feeling a little sick.

The Fail

For once, I’m all ready. My clothes are on, makeup and hair completely done. No last minute things to grab; the bags are by the door. So guess who threw the next fit?

I resisted this change in plans, big time. And it’s not the first time I’ve reacted like that to a change of plans; my husband’s been pointing out my need to let go of rigid expectations since we were dating. It’s kind of a thing I do. I would hate it when he’d say, “Let’s go out to dinner” but then change it last minute to eating in.

You see, I’m a visual person. I envision what’s going to happen. And I’m also getting over having a fixed mindset for so many years. This is what a date should be… This is what a Sunday should look like…Etc.

Having a child means that changes in plans are less of an exception and more of a norm nowadays. It’s still a process, but I’m getting better. Here are 5 steps I’ve found useful for dealing with unexpected changes to my days:

Consider your control

Most of us realize that we can’t control the weather or traffic, but it’s difficult to remember that we also don’t have control over other people’s actions and feelings. What do you really have control over? Only your own actions and feelings. I can choose to not be miffed when other people foil my perfect plans.

No point blaming a change in plans on this cutie

Let go of perfect

Visualization may confer an advantage in performance athletics or productivity situations, but having a need to live up to someone else’s vision is where it goes wrong. Who says a date has to include dinner, a movie, and a cute outfit with done hair and makeup? Who says Sundays are for long gym days, meal prep and chores? Make your own traditions instead of trying to create some “ideal” picture that’s not ideal for you today.

Get perspective

Get out of your head and back to the present. Step back and say, What does my family need today? What do I need today? They may not be the same things, but it can help with figuring out priorities and alternatives.

Look at the change as an opportunity

A healthy way to approach change is not to resist it but to view it as a learning opportunity. I just heard Ryan Holiday say on his podcast The Daily Stoic something to the effect of, “Your flight gets cancelled: some people get really upset and go drown their feelings at Cinnabon; some people use it as an opportunity to get their emails done.” When things take a new direction, trying to figure out what lesson I can learn from it always helps me to change my outlook.

Remember gratitude

These are first-world problems. It could be cancer, something serious, etc. I always try to remember this.

Blog Post Excerpt from Practice Balance.

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