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Can’t I Be Pissed Off? Turns Out, Not Really.

I so wanted to be angry. Well, I was angry. We had agreed to work on this project together and yet all I kept hearing was, “This isn’t what I imagined it was going to be,” Oh, did I want to scream! And then the statement came which broke my heart, “I am so stressed out; nothing is going the way I thought it would.”

This from a grown up. Someone whom you might have thought would have been better prepared, more ready. And yet she wasn’t. Her statement is exactly the reason I feel so strongly about life planning and design; life will throw us all curve balls but how you get ready for them, how you field them, makes all the difference in the world. This smart, talented woman could not field at all.

Life planning and design isn’t about having a never-to-be-revised vision for the future but rather it is all about getting a handle on what works for you, where you want to be headed and how you plan to stay balanced in tough times. The design part is all about identifying practices to support your goals.

How to make this work for you? Ask yourself the following questions to see where you are now:

Do you look forward to going to work?
What areas of your job do you feel most satisfied with?
What areas do you feel least satisfied with?
If you could do one thing for more hours a day at work, what would it be?

Armed with this information, what can you modify about your current work? What can you do to amplify those pieces which make your heart sing? Focusing on what’s working well makes it easier to manage those pieces we find more challenging.

Now, if you were to take a similar look at other areas of your life, can you pull the information together to begin to craft a plan that is more in line with what works best for you?

Can you see what habits or routines would support your more fully?

What would it take to put those into your life more consistently?

If you can begin to answer these questions you’ll be well on your way to avoiding the dreaded, “I wasn’t ready!” statement. No one is ever ready for all possible curves but we can do more to be prepared.

Finally, once you have started to look at a plan you can start to build routines, practices and habits that support your goals. Want to make sure you don’t end up unable to stand up on your own when you get older? Now is the time to start exercising and stretching. Want to see more sights locally? Getting in the habit of looking and planning to go to local events is the place to start.

Where you are, where you want to go next is completely in your hands. Staying there is all about laying good foundations.

First Aid Kit for Your Head

You’ve seen them all over the place; white boxes with red first aid crosses on their covers. They have band aides, some alcohol swabs, maybe an aspirin or something. If you’re lucky there will be an instant ice pack. When was the last time you saw one of those for taking care of mental health stress points that come our way? Can you see it now? A blue box maybe with a graphic of a brain on the cover. Not so appealing.

We spend a lot of time hearing about how taking care of ourselves is so important but taking care of our mental health is just as critical as taking care of our bank account or our physical health. Being armed with good coping skills will make it possible for you to not only reach your goals but stay at the top of your game.

Like any other skill, the sooner you begin to put good practices into place the easier they are to use them when you need them. Good practices to start right now are some very simple techniques:

Take a moment out to identify something you’re grateful for, hopefully 3 small items, twice a day. Your morning cup of coffee or your hot shower after your workout or the lovely pattern the sun makes under a tree.
Be as generous as possible in thought, deed and attitude. That person who cut you off on the road? Let’s hope they were rushing to get to their wife, who is in labor rather than, “what a jerk.”
Get to know yourself. What works for you, what doesn’t.
Be willing to be adaptable. There is nothing worse than hearing, “we’ve always done it this way so we can’t do it differently now.”
Try to keep in mind that this too will pass. We notice the tough stuff but often forget to notice when the tough stuff comes to an end. And it will come to an end.

Need immediate assistance?

As simple as it sounds, it is helpful to just breathe. Take a few slow, thoughtful breaths.

Step back, literally. In taking a step away from a difficult situation we allow our brains to settle down and look anew at the situation.

Remind yourself of times when you have faced other tough moments. If you did that, you can do this.

Get support. That can mean asking your good friend, asking an expert, asking someone who knows you well. A burden shared is a burdened lightened.

We all face challenges and we all struggle at times. The important part to remember is that we can arm ourselves now for whatever comes next. We have choices about how we manage the obstacles when they show up. I want to encourage you to practice now so you’ll be ready when you need to take that first aide kit off the shelf. Unless of course you lead a blessed life and no adversity comes your way then no kit required – lucky you!