Real talk: am I the only one who gets anxiety or unease when plans change suddenly? I like to think I’m somewhat laid back, but my Type A personality will tell you otherwise. I like to have plans – arguably for things that don’t matter much. A plan for dinner, a plan for my workout, a plan for the route I’m going to take while I walk the dog. Seriously, if I could plan the exact time that my cat would decide to wake me up in the middle of the night because she has the ‘zoomies’, I would. Knowing that, I have struggled with being flexible with plans. To a fault. If a friend asks me to go grab ice cream, but I was planning on some quality time with the stationary bike and the Spring Baking Championship on Hulu, I would choose the latter because that was my plan. I know, I cringe at how obsessive that sounds too (that’s why I’m working on this as an area of improvement in my life).
So how does someone who has such a hard time being flexible in life learn to be? Well, for me, it took being exposed to situations that forced me to pivot in my plan and redirect on a new course. It took realizing I wasn’t happy at the geographical location I planned to live for a year so deciding to move. It took getting a job as a kickboxing instructor only to have the studio I work at go out of business three months later. It took starting out as a personal trainer at a gym and working my butt off to get promoted only to have the gym close down due to a national pandemic two months later. (Side note: I find humor in the fact that I did literally work my butt off – I lost 5 pounds and 2 inches from my hips from all the running around I was doing). The latter two situations are ones that I did not anticipate being in or cultivate for myself. However, they were essential to my ability to accept that plans change and the best way to handle that is to focus your time and energy on pivoting instead of worrying.
This is important for me personally because it gives my mind permission to allow things to change. Because as they say “the only thing constant in life is change”. If you are so rigid in sticking with this plan, what happens if something derails it? Do you think ‘oh, there goes my plan – I’ll just go home and ponder that on the armchair while watching The Office for a couple of days’? Or do you think ‘okay, this is not ideal, but I can adjust my course and move forward – possibly even better than before’? I used to watch The Flash on Netflix and one of my favorite scenes is when The Flash teams up with a former enemy and he informs them of the four rules they need to remember. They are: 1. Make the plan; 2. Execute the plan; 3. Expect the plan to go off the rails; 4. Throw away the plan. (View the clip).
Think of how many times your past self could have benefited from utilizing those four rules when it came to a certain situation. Especially if there are little kids involved – when do things ever go according to plan then?! This flexibility is how we learn to adapt and try something new that we might not have tried before. It is how we cultivate resilience and continue to trek forward despite hardship and adversity. It is how we learn to accept and enjoy an ice cream date with a friend instead of burning those extra 300 calories on the bike.
So be flexible! Pivot as needed. Make a plan – sure – but know the plan is open to change and welcome that as something that may lead to something greater than you thought would come from the original idea. I know I’m still working on this and sometimes it is harder than others, but I try not to let myself ruminate on it too much so that I can transition into whatever is next with ease and contentment. So put yourself in situations that can cultivate flexibility – and maybe do some stretches while you are there!