Coping with the unexpected

A question I have rarely asked any of our community is how they would cope with a significant but unexpected event I their lives?

Whether we like it or not, and mostly we don’t, life will throw curve balls at us. In and of themselves these storms in our lives are not the most important thing, much more significant is what we do about them.

Guiding people through the process of planning and to set a path towards a life better imagined is what we do, our natural optimism can help us become much more excited about the future once we have set out a plan and a path. However, life rarely, if ever unfolds in such a wonderful tableau. Mores the pity perhaps but life is what it is.

Given the fact that life does not follow a nice linear path but turns and twists in ways we cannot foresee you might wonder as to the value of planning at all. Plenty of would be clients over the years have determined there is no value to planning and chose not to work with me.

As a younger man I was often troubled by this rejection, that is until I paid much more attention to those that did subscribe to the idea of planning and the way they managed their lives. I learned a lot from how they lived through the significant turmoil that some of life’s transitions.

I learned as both witness and counsel through many challenges they faced, almost not noticing my own. What was most significant in the process of coping, was the extent to which people had made plans. It might seem completely counter intuitive to suggest going back to your plans in the midst or post a storm in your life, however without question those who had plans and were able to review their lives in the context of those plans, emerged more easily and quickly into a new phase of life than those who did not have a plan. General Dwight Eisenhower when reflecting on the D-Day landings of 1944 said “plans are worthless, but planning is everything.”

In essence what he is saying is that planning sets the track towards your objective, you will get knocked off that track, put the planning you do before you set off will always allow you to reorient yourself in the aftermath of being derailed.

Dealing with the unexpected is never easy and is often something we fear, but the simple truth is that if you look back over your life you have faced and had to cope with many unexpected events some of which you have coped with well and others less so.

Being clear about what you want and setting out the actions you need to take in order to achieve what you want from life is the key to success. The first question you must answer for yourself is “what do I / we want?” When you have an answer ask yourself one more question, “why?”

This is not a silver bullet for life’s future, no such thing exists, but it is an approach than can set you on the right track and help build the personal resilience that you will surely need.