My “If It Can Go Wrong, It Will” Saturday
Sit back and relax while I tell you a little story about last Saturday.
Since I work in front of a computer screen at a very uncomfortable desk every weekday, I like to do things that are completely different on the weekend. In fact, I usually don’t even turn on my computer—although I do still use my phone.
So on this particular Saturday, I needed to work on some household chores. My kitchen table has become an embarrassment over the years, so I had plans to refinish it. I started lightly sanding a couple of chairs and then went to the hardware store to buy the paint. I searched three different stores and could not find the color I wanted.
And then I found out the top coat I was planning to use, wouldn’t work the way that I needed it to and that if I wanted something durable, it was going to be a TON more work. I was frustrated and I wanted to throw in the towel. Now I couldn’t find a good paint or topcoat. But the two chairs I had already sanded were staring me in the face, reminding me there was no turning back now.
Deciding to address the paint predicament later, I looked at my big black dog who was panting from the heat. He needed a haircut–badly. So, I plugged in the clippers, lifted him up to the table…and voila! He jumped out of my arms, knocked the table into my leg, and dumped the clippers into his water bowl. With my leg throbbing, I unplugged the clippers—but it was too late. They were ruined and the dog still needed a haircut.
By this point, I felt I had wasted almost the entire day, nothing had gone according to plan, and I was ready to explode. If I were a cartoon character, steam would have been shooting from my ears. Instead, I’m a real person and I needed to get a grip because my kids were looking at me like I was crazy (probably because I was halfway there!) and they wanted some dinner. Regardless of how crummy my day was, there were still more responsibilities to fulfill.
I honestly wondered if it was too late to turn the day around. Maybe it would be best to crawl back in bed and refuse to come out. But I also realized that at least half of my problem was my reaction to the day’s obstacles. I let myself get angry and frustrated. I needed to change that.
I went and took a cold shower and made myself smile. (Little known fact, smiling is like the chicken and the egg—when we feel good we smile and when we smile, it makes us feel good. Don’t believe me? Try it. Even when you’re angry, if you force yourself to smile like a goofball at nothing and for no reason, your brain doesn’t know the difference. It thinks you must be happy, and it releases those feel-good chemicals just the same. Not to mention, forcing yourself to smile, feels ridiculous and silly–making you smile for real.)
With a new smile and determination to end the day better than it had begun, I tried again.
First, I thought of several things I’m grateful for. I didn’t just run through a mental checklist of items like health, house, food, family, etc. I took five minutes and thought deeply about why I was grateful for those things. I even thought about my headache with gratitude. Because, after all, I’m grateful for my body and a mind, even if they kick my butt once in a while. At least I’m alive to feel the pain.
And do you know what? It worked. The gratitude changed my attitude. And everything went better from there.
I went to another store and I instantly found the paint color I wanted. It even cost less than if I had bought it at one of the other stores. I also found a top coat, that may not be quite as durable as I want, but will do the job for way less effort.
Next, I picked up tacos for dinner. Because even though my day was going better, I needed to cut myself some slack and recognize that tonight was a night for fast food. Later that night, I ordered a new set of clippers online, so the dog did escape a haircut for a couple of days, but he’ll have one soon.
Are you wondering why I’ve told you this long story about my Saturday?
Because I think that it has nine important reminders for our businesses and personal lives
Things will not always go the way you plan
I had a plan for my day, just like we have plans for our businesses, finances, and lives. And it’s important to have those plans. But it’s equally important to remember that even with the best-laid plans, you’ll run into obstacles and failure. Prepare yourself mentally for those times. Be flexible.
You choose how you react when your plans don’t work out
We may not be able to control everything that happens to us, but we can control how we react to it. And sometimes we have to keep reminding ourselves not to be angry or frustrated. That’s OK.
Don’t Give Up
The worst thing you can do is to give up. Struggle and obstacles are a normal part of anything that is worthwhile. So don’t let them defeat you. If I had accepted defeat after searching three stores, I wouldn’t have found a paint color that I love.
Smiling makes you feel good. And makes it everyone around you feel good. Honestly, I can’t think of many situations where a smile doesn’t help.
Gratitude can change our perspective
If you haven’t realized the importance of gratitude yet, Google it. Study after study has found gratitude to be one of the biggest predictors of happiness, wealth, health, and quality relationships. And the good news is that even if it doesn’t come naturally to you, you can practice, improve, and still get the benefits.
I did NOT want to go to one more store to check for paint, but I was thrilled when I found exactly what I wanted. Sometimes what we are looking for is just around the next bend in the road, and if we stop moving forward because the path is too hard or we’re too tired, we may never know how close we were to reaching our goal.
Sometimes good enough is good enough
We all have ideals and we often put an enormous amount of pressure on ourselves and those around us to be perfect. Why?
Take a step back and decide if perfection is really necessary. I know of many product launches, company launches, and career launches that have been hung up because “It” wasn’t perfect. That’s OK. It just needs to be good enough. Perfection comes later.
Keep striving and improving, but never let the fact that you or your product isn’t perfect yet, keep you from moving forward. I couldn’t find the perfect top coat, but that’s OK. I found one that was good enough and allowed me to move forward on my project.
Cut yourself some slack
Yep, I got my kids fast food for dinner. Ideal? No. Acceptable? Yes. Recognize when you can’t do it all and let something go.
Make adjustments and move forward
With my dog clippers broken, I had to make an adjustment. So I ordered new ones and I’ll try again next weekend. It will get done later than I thought, but it will still get done. And in the meantime, I have a table to refinish.
So next time you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed by what life throw’s at you, take a moment to regroup and use one of these nine suggestions to try to turn it around.
May we all have smooth sailing! And when we don’t, keep sailing anyway.