Life Lessons Learnt from my GPS
Stay on Track with One Little Word of Wisdom.
Thanksgiving Day, 1300 hrs. Family arriving any minute. Kitchen like Armageddon. Kids not dressed. Just when things can't get any more stressful, the 20lb bird takes a dive onto the floor. It's like an episode of BayWatch...legs and breasts all over the place!
Spouse: "OMG, are you kidding me? They'll be here any minute!" (you knew that). Kids: "Eeeewwww, gross!" or "Cool, is that its liver?" (fill in for girls or boys). You: "#$!!@?!"
But what would your GPS say if you made a mistake?
Wisdom Comes in Small Packages.
This one word is arguably the simple answer to life's little stresses and travails. You can't turn back the clock. You can't undo the mistakes. You can only, as this veritable Yoda of wisdom on your dashboard tells you, look at the road ahead, reset and find the best way to keep moving forward.
So, in the fallen fowl situation, your options might be to:
a) scoop up the carnage and make a Martha Stewart-like effort to rearrange it on the platter (LOTS of parsley garnish...)
b) hastily call all parties about to converge on you to see if they can pick up a replacement bird or
c) greet everyone cheerfully, give them a drink and a few swipes of onion dip and head to your nearest Applebees for the big feast.
There are always options. But there are only options moving forward. Beating yourself up over what's already happened only adds to your stress.
It's not easy to let go of your anger or frustration when things go wrong, whether by your own doing or that of others. And it's natural to want to vent, cry, scream..these are, after all, the automatic human responses to "s*@! happens". What's important is how quickly you can re-group, assess your options and "recalculate".
So just how do you keep calm and carry on when confronted with life's little curve balls?
Try this simple 1-5-10 plan next time you hit a bump in the road.
1. Allow yourself to be human. Give yourself one minute to vent (be mindful to stay within the law here, no throwing punches or breaking windows!).
2. Be disciplined. Take 5 minutes right away to brainstorm your options. Even if there seems to be only one way to move forward, giving yourself something to do will help you feel empowered, whether it's calling the insurance company, contacting a friend who experienced same thing, or researching an online solution to the problem.
3. Take 10 minutes if possible to turn your mind off the problem, to do or think about something completely different in order to let go of that knot of frustration and disappointment. Important document lost? Take a coffee break and turn to another to-do point on your list. Pranged the car? Take some deep breaths and call a friend. Didn't get the job? Listen to some music, watch your favorite sitcom, go for a run. Even a brief mental "time-out" from the problem can be cathartic.
How Quickly Can You "Recalculate"?
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No Dead Ends.
No matter how many wrong turns you take, your GPS never rolls it eyes and gives up on you (your family might, but not your GPS). It will persist, with an unwaveringly calm tone, in getting you to your destination, regardless of how many times you take the wrong road. Similarly, in life it is important to persevere, especially in the face of setbacks, in order to reach your goal.
When my son recently lost an important Varsity tennis match, he came home, drank Gatorade and went right back out to the court to work on his serve. No wallowing, self-berating or raging. Just recalculating. I admire his tenacity and focus. Especially since he doesn't drive yet and therefore can't benefit from the guiding wisdom of a GPS!
In the end, it's how you cope in the minutes immediately following a set-back that is important. Not what happens, but how you react to what happens.
Check out the quiz to the right to find out how well you are able to "recalculate" when life takes a wrong turn. And next time you hit a bump in the road, try the 1-5-10...plan and let me know how you get on!