If you don’t mind, I’m going to be Captain Obvious for a moment and share something with you that you already know:
Life can throw you a curve ball and turn your entire world upside down.
Let me give you an example of a curve ball:
My mom spent nearly $100,000 renting a house for 8 years. It was a place she called home. She would sit in the back yard every day watching nature. At 74, she was enjoying the final quarter of her life in a place she felt comfortable. Her abusive marriage was a thing of the past, and she felt free.
When visited her, we’d sit in the back yard together enjoying the sun and the conversation. I have some fond memories of my mom and I at that house.
Then the curve ball came. Her landlord decided to give her 30 days notice to vacate. After 8 years of a great relationship with her landlord, always paying on time and trying to be a good tenant, my mom was told that she had to change her entire life in 30 days.
The law says she can do that, of course. The landlord had every right to tell her to leave. But thirty days to my mom was like a week to most of us. She had no extra funds to move, she lived alone, and she had no place to go. The process was legal, I’m just not sure it was moral. At minimum, it would have been a kinder thing for the landlord to let my mom know several months earlier.
But this isn’t an article on morals. It’s about when life does something you don’t expect and you are forced to deal with it no matter what. That’s what happened to my mom.
Fortunately, my mom has a support system where she lives. She can reach out to people that love her and want to help. When all of this started happening, support was there to lend a hand.
My mom’s situation is a great reminder that we can get very used to how things are.
We grow accustomed to life the way it is today. And when we are comfortable, we don’t want that “change” thing to come around and lead us into anything we don’t want to do. It’s uncomfortable! And sometimes, it can be downright scary.
But another Captain Obvious quote reminds us that the most stable thing in our life is change:
Change is all there is.
Almost every relationship, job, and experience in our life goes through change.
When you think of the changes you’ve experienced, do you tend to only remember the pleasant ones? I think most of us tend to think more often about the “They had to drag me away kicking and screaming” type of changes.
- You didn’t want that breakup or divorce
- You didn’t want that person to betray you
- You didn’t want that job to end
- You didn’t want to accept that person’s bad behavior that day
- You didn’t want to face that challenge
- You didn’t want… (fill in the blank).
When I got the news that my mom had 30 days to pack up her entire life and leave her home, I didn’t know what to say. I definitely had feelings about what was happening to her. But instead of choosing to go into fear mode about what she was going to do or where she was going to live, I went into planning mode.
As you know, there’s a big difference between the two.
Fear Mode is when your decisions are based on something you don’t want to happen.
Planning Mode is based on what you will do no matter what happens.
Choosing Planning Mode can be the difference between falling down the spiral staircase into misery, or climbing onto the platform of victory.
That doesn’t mean you won’t have any fear, it just means that the fear you do have takes a back seat while you plan and take action for your life.
Planning Mode actually feels like a different state of mind when you activate it. It helps you focus and gets you into a calmer, more reasonable space inside yourself so that you keep your composure until you have completed your mission.
The not-so-Captain-Obvious-lesson to learn from this is that focusing on what you will lose is the recipe to bring more loss, while focusing on a mission is the recipe for success.
When my mom found out the news that she had 30 days to leave, I’m sure she was shocked and had to take some time to process it. But a few days later, she got clear. She made it her mission to plan her next steps.
And she did something else I’ve rarely seen her do: She asked for help.
She is normally a private person when it comes to challenges. Sharing her struggles is not something she often does. And when she does share, if it gets too deep, she doesn’t want to share anymore. She keeps her emotions very private.
This event was a real struggle that went on in her life. And I have to say that I’m very proud of her for doing what might seem impossible for many other people her age. Instead of sinking into a worrying state of fear, she rose to a place of self-leadership, self-love, and courage.
Self-leadership is when you take action and make things happen, even against all odds.
Self-love is when you decide that you are worthy and important, so you never give up on yourself.
Courage is doing what you need to do even though you are scared to death.
Life can throw you a curve ball fast and hard. It might even knock you over. And “change” can be challenging. But it can also help you come closer to self-mastery, in the sense that, without change, you may not ever know what you are capable of.
Without life’s curve balls, you may never have an opportunity to stretch yourself to the limit. And when you don’t know your limits, you may end up limiting yourself in so many other areas of life.
My mom was stretched to her limits. Her entire world changed in what seemed like an instant. She was uncomfortable and afraid. She had important decisions to make.
And she was determined to make it through the challenge because no matter how bad things were going to get for her, she continued to persevere through the fear and continued planning her life according to change, because as you know:
Change is going to happen whether we like it or not.
Surviving and thriving through change is a matter of knowing just how much change you can actually take (and you can endure a lot, you just may not want to), that way when the future happens you can look into the past and say, “I’ve been through worse, I’ll make it through this too.”
Focusing on the fear keeps you in the rut.
Focusing on your mission – what you need to do next – gives you the strength and clarity to make the next right decisions for you. My mom stayed focused and chose to complete her mission. Because she asked for help, she got a place to live and is now happier than she’s ever been.
Change doesn’t always mean things will get worse. But focus is vital if you want it to get better. My mom stayed focused and wasn’t going to let this defeat her.
Whatever challenge you’re facing now, make a mission out of it. Then, after it’s all over and you’ve survived, you can take the time to reflect on the fear that came up for you.