On this road to Designing Your Ideal Life, always remember that life happens. Can your “Plan A” fail? Absolutely. Nothing is perfect, and I am reminded of those rough stones that make their way into a swift moving stream. Sometimes it takes the stream a long while to smooth down that stone and to make it beautiful.

I suppose that one of the key differences between my philosophy and a lot of those so-called “Self-Help Books” out there, is that those books always want to place the blame on you when a plan just doesn’t seem to turn out right. “You must have done something wrong!” the authors will yell. I think that such an attitude is cruel and unfair, not to mention devoid of compassion.

My philosophy is that nobody’s life is perfect and there are many things that test us and can set us back. The attitude we must adapt is one of, “I’m bigger than that. And that it is not a matter of bad things happening to us, but how we respond to it.

I know a man who is very well known in the pharmaceutical profession. His industry trade group contained many thousands of members with several regional chapters. To be elected to a national office in that trade group was a very big deal and it would elevate him and open him up to all kinds of opportunities not just nationally, but internationally. He started to lobby for the vice-chair office and was starting to gain momentum in the voting, when his wife and three-year old child were critically injured in an automobile accident.

His focus was obviously taken off the goal of being elected in order to care for his family. He could not devote enough time to gaining votes. He lost the election. The next time the elections came around, he tried again however, it was during a time in which his job was unstable as his company was about to be acquired. Though many people in the trade group “liked him,” they felt that as his job might go out of existence, that he wasn’t electable. He lost again.

He changed jobs, ran again, and finally made it!

The point is, that it’s all about mindset.

It is your decision how to react to adversity. You can be a victim or you can find another way. The executive could have been angry at the world, and he could have run a lot of negative scenarios in his mind. For example: “Who cares about this lousy organizational position?” or “How dare these people not vote for me after what happened to my wife and child?”

He chose to not be a victim and not to react in a negative fashion.

A more minor example might be a person who loves to garden. She plants the garden and lo- and behold, it is growing beautifully. One evening a huge hailstorm with high winds comes through her neighborhood; her garden is destroyed. She comes out to the garden and she feels completely devastated. She feels sorry for herself for a day and commiserates with her neighbors as to how unfair life can be. Suddenly, she stops herself just about in mid-sentence, and remembers she still had seeds. She returns to her garden, replants and in a week or two, new seedlings appear.

We may not always succeed with our “Plan A’s.” I knew a physician who went through all of his training only to realize a year or two into private practice that what he wanted all along was to be a photographer. He realized he had no aptitude to hear the complaints of his patients. He would eventually become a nature photographer – and a good one too! It was his “Plan B” that brought him happiness and joy.

It is never too late to live our dreams and to change your mindset!

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