So far this month there’s only been 5 days when both our preschool girls have been at school. We are fortunate that we have help from a nanny. Unfortunately, 7 of those days, the nanny was also not able to come and help.
So, multiple days this month, we’ve had to juggle schedules, rearrange meetings and basically show our flexibility on the fly.
We are not alone. This is not an isolated story. It’s simply the world that we live in right now.
As humans, we crave consistency. We’re habit-based creatures (even if some of those habits are bad…). Thus, when our schedules and routines are thrown for a loop in real time, a typical byproduct is stress. If it happens once or twice, we can manage okay. If it happens, say 10 out of 15 school days in a month, our stress can build up and we can blow the proverbial gasket.
Right now, the world is showing up inconsistently. Illness, exposure to illness, schools closing, flight cancellations are just a few examples. It is reported that the United Airlines lost $400 million over the holiday travel season due to employees calling in sick.
Flexibility is the art of bending and not breaking. Remaining flexible is the key not only to surviving the curveballs, yet thriving because of them.
Here’s some ways to stay flexible in an inconsistent world:
Let go of expectations
John A. Johnson, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Pennsylvania State University, writes this about expectations: “Expecting life to always turn out the way you want is guaranteed to lead to disappointment because life will not always turn out the way you want it to. And when those unfulfilled expectations involve the failure of other people to behave the way you expect them to, the disappointment also involves resentment.”
When we drop what we expect to happen or expect of what other people are going to do, it allows us to live in the moment. Expectations are future oriented. We can drop them by not being attached to outcomes. Life is going to happen regardless of expectations or non-expectations, we know that. When we are not attached to specific outcomes, we are more mentally and emotionally ready to make the best adjustments in the moment to get us what we want.
Focus on what you can control
Everything is out of our control. Except this: what we think, feel and do. When the world shows up inconsistently, we have little to no control over it. Stress happens when we focus, worry, resent those things which we cannot control.
Maintain focus on what we think, feel and do. A great question is simply, “What’s in my control that I can do right now?” In fact, this question is a terrific one to get out of overwhelm (which is another system focusing on an inconsistent world). It opens our minds to possibility and gets us into action. Focusing only on what you can control will keep you out of stress and will maintain your ability to be flexible.
Know your priorities
Gary Keller & Jay Papasan’s book The ONE Thing asks what they call the focusing question, “What’s the one thing such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” Think of the key area(s) of your life: career, relationships, wealth, health, personal growth, spirituality and figure out which 1-2 of those are the biggest priority and which activities are the ones that move the needle toward your goals.
If you’re a business owner, then career is probably in that priority category. If you could only do one thing today that would still drive the business forward, what would it be? Is it sales generation, recruiting talent, retaining talent or something else? Don’t confuse growing with running the business. What one thing will grow the business? Let that become your priority in the event the inconsistent world lands on your doorstep. Maintain consistency on the one thing that is most crucial to your growth.
The world is showing up inconsistently right now. We all know that, feel it and experience it frequently. When we show up as flexible by letting go of expectations, focusing on what we can control and knowing our priorities, we’re able to reduce our stress, navigate the choppy waters and still stay on track to get what we want out of business for our life!
Stay safe out there, friends!