When I see an anxious person, I ask myself, what do they want? For if a person wasn’t wanting something outside of their control, why would they be stricken with anxiety?Epictetus – Discourses 2.13.1
So you sit down by your desk, on your couch, maybe the floor, and write out your plan. The inspiration hits and it all just flows. You quite possibly just created the best step by step genius of a plan. How could this possibly end badly? A plan detailed enough to follow but not so ridiculously specific that it accounts for variations in outcomes. However, just as most things in life go, they don’t go according to expectations.
Expectations themselves are something I’d like to write about in another post but for now let’s just leave them as a general thing to be cautious with. This post is about dealing with a plan that seems to be heading in a different direction that intended.
The Derailing Begins
So I hopped on a plane about three weeks ago to Medellín, Colombia with the intention of learning Spanish properly (not just learning to order food and point at things). I also had and still have the intention of organising my mind, business activities and general life. Getting into a new space can help to segregate yourself from yourself and see things from a different perspective; sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
All in all, the primary purpose was Colombia for two months, get myself fluent and explore the country a little. Just to ensure I didn’t have to worry about accommodation I searched for ages for a well-priced private room with private bathroom in a hostel. The rest of my budget was loosely based on this pricing.
When I arrived, I had my private room but my private bathroom consisted of a separated toilet and shower cubicle. It was also located in the communal area, a padlock on each door ensured others didn’t use it. Having to walk down the hall to use facilities wasn’t my idea of an en-suite. Also, I had booked for two weeks in this place. My decision on this was just to give it go and see how it fared.
After a week, I requested to switch to a room where the bathroom was in the room. They informed me that I already had a private bathroom. Following that, there was only one room available which had a double and single bed in, so if I wanted that I had to pay more. My new room with an actual en-suite ended up with less room due to the addition of a single bed. In addition to that, it had a little, yet very noisy, desk fan attached to the ceiling.
Accepting and Adapting
My plan was originally to get reasonable accommodation with little worry so that I could concentrate on studying. It didn’t quite happen. It’s not the worst experience of my life but it was an inconvenience. I tried accepting and then tried adapting. It didn’t make things easier, just different though with the same level of uncomfortable.
My next adaptation to my situation was to book a better bigger room in a hotel. The plan seemed sound. My hastiness to leave meant I failed to realise the amount I was spending for a single week, a whole lot more than budgeted. On the bright side, I currently have a giant room, albeit still noisy, just now from outside as opposed to the ceiling mounted desk fan.
So given my attempts to correct my course and join back onto the original route, it’s just not happening. I still have noise, I’ve spent more of my budget, and I still need to figure out where I’m staying the following weeks.
Shaking off that feeling
Now my time has come to truly reflect and deal with this. As situations go, it’s not a bad one, but in relation to making a plan, it’s terrible!
For me, it’s the feeling of heading the direction you want to but not in the right way. When you make a plan, you usually intend to follow it. When I made my plan, I struggled to follow it properly. Not from lack of trying or intention but from things I didn’t know to be prepared for.
Think of things like this: you take a test where you need to guess the colour of objects in black and white. When the results come back, you find out that you got zero on the test but your answers were the correct general colour just the wrong shade. You guessed light blue when it was teal, or you guessed pale pink when it was actually baby pink (they look the same to me).
Holding onto what’s not there
Ridding myself of that feeling is my challenge, but it is a process. Currently, my method for dealing with this is reminding myself that I can only do what I am in control of. The anxiety and discomfort from my plan not properly functioning can only be dealt with creating a new plan, adapting it or removing it completely. By holding onto the idea that I can change the past to shift myself back onto the train that has already left the station is foolish; though if had a time machine…
This isn’t to say scrap your plan if it doesn’t go as it should, but you need to change something. You need to find a way to concentrate on re-finding your path to success in whatever that may be. Stop concentrating on the steps in the plan but concentrate on the outcome of the plan that you’re gunning for.
Why we hold on
Personally, I think that we hold onto a plan even when wrong because we don’t like to be wrong. If you spend a lot of time on something only to discover that your idea of everything wasn’t quite right, it’s frustrating. That is where we need to accept, adapt and develop. Accept what’s happened, adapt your plan, develop yourself through the previous.
What do you think? If something doesn’t go to plan, what’s the best way to deal with it?