Some people seem to spend their lives lurching from one crisis to another where something is always happening “to” them. Some people seem to glide calmly through life without crisis featuring in their day to day landscape. Given that the 80% approach is all about balance, let’s see if there’s a middle road here.
I am definitely one of those people who has constant challenge and crisis in their lives. It has taken all of my 42 years to figure out how I can be more swan-like* and glide more calmly through it but this goes hand in hand with the pressure I feel that I should be able to handle it all.
“Should” is a difficult word for me. It’s very much about projecting what I think people think of me and that’s not necessarily accurate or healthy so I add it to my Zone of ZFG every time I review my Lean Life Canvas but it’s a difficult mindset to shift, particularly when one is externally referenced (and therefore values other people’s opinions and needs above one’s own).
So I am in a position where I am faced with significant challenges which this week has been the total lack of internet due to the incompetence of Sky and BTopenreach, matched with no mobile signal in my house leading to being unable to do my job and the risks of not being able to communicate with my husband who has end-stage renal failure. This challenge has tested my mettle and is particularly difficult because I have no direct means to resolve it.
The key to being calm about it therefore has been/is focusing on the things I can control; on responding to change over following the plan (as per the Agile Manifesto):
– I have delegated the talking to Sky to my husband (because he has the time to deal with it and he is the official account holder)
– I have written out the key points of what is a complex situation so we don’t have to keep writing them out every time
– I have called on my network to help find a space where I can work that doesn’t break the Covid regulations
– I have parked my car a little bit away from the house where there is mobile signal so I can use it as a space to make calls, attend meetings, run tutorials and so on
– I have reviewed my diary week by week to identify where I need to have broadband access and where I don’t so I know exactly when I need to find alternative provision
And that last point enabled me to see that there is an opportunity hidden in this situation. Not being distracted by emails or meetings or calls means that I can totally focus on writing. I have several deadlines coming up and I need the headspace. Although it’s a stressful (and unnecessary) situation, it is also giving me that headspace to think and research and write and plan.
These are not long-term solutions, merely immediate term sticking plasters and the issue still needs to be resolved, but I can choose how I respond and how I get the support I need. I have an extraordinary support network in my friends and family but I am very mindful of not abdicating my responsibilities or asking too much, not using them as an outlet for my stress and frustration, and wanting to play my part in supporting them too. I want to be an awesome friend, sister, daughter but there are times when I need those friends and family to be my awesome for me or help me re-find it myself. I am truly grateful that they are always there for me and it is that support matched with mindset that makes being swan-like possible.
It is ok to not be awesome all the time. We all carry different burdens; we have different crises; but we can cope and even thrive when we focus on what we can control about a situation, on where we can get help and support, and on responding to the changes around us rather than rigidly sticking to our plan.
*calm and serene on the outside, but paddling like hell under the water