"Sometimes the best laid plans...."None of us are strangers to this phrase. As a self-proclaimed master planner, who firmly believes that a carefully constructed outline and spreadsheet can solve most of the world's problems (or at the very least, my everyday life), I am clearly not a fan of this phrase. Life, however, believes I should be well versed with it, and ever so graciously delivers an occasional stream of earth shakers, to ensure that I hone my ingenuity and attitude when even the best laid plans go awry.
Earlier this year, I ran what I considered to be a really pivotal race (for me). It's been four months since I moved this mountain of a marathon and, oh, the goals I set while riding the high of this moment. Until, my body decided it had other plans.
Truth is, it's been an interesting year of unwelcome surprises. As I reflect on this, I'm somewhat amazed at the resiliency I've acquired. This is not to gloat; this is to recognize how far I've come since I learned to co-exist with, and not combat, conflict. It's been a very turbulent year, but also a positively groundbreaking one and in life, I've learned these two things tend to be a package deal. So, I welcome them both.
Sometimes life presses the reset button, whether we are expecting it or not. Things may appear prosperous and even so, we are sent a very clear message that we must address something that has lingered incomplete, revealed as neglected, or has simply plateaued. I once perceived these resets as a personally directed punishment, but I now understand them to be a helpful message to direct my attention to something that requires nourishment. These messages from the universe could encourage us to pay more attention to our true calling, our personal development, work/life balance, our health, our financial stability, our relationships...perhaps, all of the above?
My boss (and mentor) lives by what he considers to be the 10 most important two-letter words in the English language: “If it is to be, it is up to me”. I used to abhor it. "Past Me", translated this to mean that the weight of the world was on my shoulders and I was all alone in my struggles. I know I was wrong, but frankly, that's how I perceived myself at that time. When I finally had the courage to analyze this (and some other integral things) using a different lens, I realized there was one thing I did manage to do. I survived. And if I am able boast survival from a time that I considered to be my worst, imagine what I could overcome at my best? If it is to be it IS up to me. How amazing is that? And, should it really be any other way? Your life is custom designed. By you. And every good, clear choice is one step closer to something extraordinary and quite possibly beyond expectation.
How this correlates is, what can be perceived as a setback could really be the next "Big Thing" in disguise. I don't mean denying feelings of heartbreak or grief in times of hardship; I am a fervent believer of letting all of those feelings exercise freedom of expression. But, when that is done, observe and listen for the opportunity that lies within. This is a practice that is not easy to come by, and, is a life-long exercise. With time, however, it can become quite the valuable skill set.
This journey is beautiful and unique to everyone. There is no universal guidebook, except that it requires honest self-reliance and self-respect from all of us. For me, you guessed it, I go for the pen and paper (and eventually, the beloved spreadsheet) and I plan. I plan, I dream, I list, I deconstruct, I scribble absolute nonsense, and then I repeat, until something orderly and fresh and hopefully, inspiring, emerges from my creative mess. I also run, but since this particular setback directly involved my running, I had to pull out Plan B. And sometimes, Plan C, or a combination of all three. It's all a part of the journey of self-discovery.
It's also an opportunity to set new goals, maybe even ones you didn't even consider prior to setback. Give them all the respect of your attention, especially the far-fetched ones! And then, embrace the failures. Welcome the education and the tests (and the comebacks) that follow.
I have spent the last two months redefining my short and long term expectations. I have revamped my goals. I am being uncomfortably honest with myself about what I've been neglecting and am digging deep into the roots of my setbacks. I've cleared the rubble and started a fresh foundation of therapy, restorative practices and form adjustment. It is slow, it is arduous, at times painful, but deeply gratifying.
Gratifying, because I have learned with age and experience that great milestones will typically disguise themselves as a “setback". And I am so grateful that I have learned to enjoy that road to that great unknown.