When things go wrong.
We’ve all experienced times in our lives when things do not go according to our well-laid out plans. And, when things do go wrong, it is easy to get stuck in wallowing, self-pity and a big fat rut.
A few years ago, I finished a master’s degree in Linguistics. I was studying the theories of language systems, sounds and patterns. After graduation, I thought the next logical step would be to get my PhD in what I had spent my grad school years studying. I took out loans, and enrolled. But, from the very beginning, I kept hitting wall after wall. I experienced annoying conflicts with students and professors, which included getting and quitting a grad teaching assistantship (pretty much a coveted, holy grail for PhDs). I was the QUEEN of procrastination. After nearly a decade of going to school, I was fried. I did not want to read one more scholarly article, let alone write one!
I had invested a lot of time and money into my education. I spent nearly 4 years in grad school, and just a few classes shy of my dissertation, I gave it all up. That’s right, I (unofficially) dropped out of school. No more velvety robe or “Dr. Tanis” for me.
My supportive, but concerned husband said: “I’ll support your decision to drop out, but you have to do SOMETHING.”
At first, that something consisted of lying on the couch, watching hours upon hours of Netflix (Think: finishing a 5 season TV series in 2 weeks – Yikes!). I was ashamed for starting something I couldn’t finish. I felt like a class-A failure for disappointing myself, my family, my friends and my advisor (I’m still on his sh*t list, btw).
Getting over myself.
Once I peeled myself off the couch, I realized I could make a choice: keep beating myself up about being a dropout, or accept that I had put myself into this position, so it was time for ME to get myself out of it.
It was time to get over the embarrassment, hard feelings, and move on! Others didn’t and don’t have to accept my decisions. Our lives belong to us – it’s time to start living it like it’s ours!
I realized this was my chance to take stock, do some work, and set things right in my life. For me, this meant giving the finger to the idea of getting a 9-5 job, changing my mind-set, and starting off on the difficult, yet rewarding path of being an entrepreneur.
What do YOU do when life throws you a curve ball?
Whatever life throws at you, every situation comes with a choice. Two powerful questions that will help you take action and make a change when plans fall apart are to ask yourself:
1. What is it that I Want? Clearly identifying what you want from life or a particular situation can help provide focus. If it’s not part of your plan, you know you don’t have to spend your time or energy on it.
2. Why Do I Want It? Recognizing the motivation behind why you do or don’t want something will help you determine if what you want is coming from the ego’s need to save face (keep up appearances), or from the place of what is truly best for you and your highest ideals.
I’m not saying your choices will be easy or that all options will always be good. You may even have to decide between bad and worse. Sometimes, however, it’s just a matter of IDENTIFYING and shifting priorities to realize what it is you truly want, or, as in my case, DON’T WANT.
Either way, when things go wrong, you always have the choice to change gears and do SOMETHING about it, even if that something is just changing the way you think.