Plan ahead

It may seem obvious. Look for things that might go wrong when figuring out a holiday overseas, planning a wedding, building a house, playing a sports tournament, performing on stage. These are big events, often one time only, so we want to make sure they have the greatest opportunity to be wonderful. We practice them, we put alternatives in place for bad weather, we communicate what we need and want with others, and we know that sometimes it just won’t be our day. The other team plays better, the sound system malfunctions, the celebrant of the wedding falls ill, flights are rescheduled by the airline. Most of the time we have plans in place to ensure the show will go on, maybe at a different time, or we can accept the end result because it’s out of our control.

Our life is a one time event. A pretty big event at that. So, it is logical for us to have plans in place if unexpected things happen causing the end result to be different to what we hoped. We can only plan for things we think might happen. Unexpected means exactly that, we haven’t thought of it or expected it to happen. But, we can have strategies about what to do when we acknowledge something unexpected to help control what we are able to.

Last weekend I was dog sitting. It was a good time spent with a wonderful dog and cat. There was the responsibility of remembering to feed them, take Teddy (Labradoodle) for walks, and pay Ewok (Norwegian forest cat) enough attention, but for the most part it was a relaxing weekend with two furry friends. The planning required was for when I returned to my flat. We have a chore roster where we do the thing before the end of Sunday night. Being a long weekend I was therefore not able to accomplish this from Saturday through to Monday. I usually do my weekly cleaning on Saturday afternoon. I returned home on Monday and did my cleaning then. Not ideal but completed. A better plan would have been to do my cleaning on the Thursday or Friday before the weekend. This information will help me for next time.

I also cook for some of my flatmates on a Monday night. Due to playing ultimate I only got back at 8pm. I set about making dinner but it was not ready until 9.15pm, which is rather late. To ensure my flatmates knew dinner would be late I sent them advance warning with an ETA for dinner. This was a slightly better example of planning ahead, but I could also have organised to cook on a different night this week.

Sometimes the things we need to plan for are expected and obvious. Knowing we have a fortnightly team meeting at work and preparing for it mentally, physically, and emotionally. Performing our show for a live audience, after months of practicing as best we can with our troupe. Booking our car for a WoF because we know when it’s due, and budgeting to have funds available for it.

Sometimes the things we need to plan for are unexpected. A family bereavement, meaning time off work, helping to organise the memorial service, and communicating with family. Sustaining an injury while playing sport meaning we can’t play in the final. Waking up in the morning and for no discernible reason feeling unable to face the day or even get out of bed.

It is often easy to find information to help us manage expected things. Unexpected things are a different matter. They require preparation that may be unnecessary, like having money set aside for a rainy day, being the most helpful sideline support we can be for our team, and knowing what our go to actions are on our tough days.

For me on my tough days, there are questions I am learning to ask myself. Helpfully, I am also slowly learning the answers. Who am I comfortable talking to today? Is today one to watch TV and make sure I’m eating well? Do I have the energy to go for a walk or meet someone for a coffee? Am I able to get up, have a shower, make a hot chocolate and a sandwich? Can I push through the anguish and play my guitar until I want to again?

Feelings we have in each unexpected situation will be different. The key is to let ourselves experience them, and process them healthily. Learn what worked well and what didn’t so if there’s a next time we will be better prepared to help ourselves and others.

Be good, keep good, and sleep good, dear readers. Peace.

Photo by Mateusz Dach from Pexels

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