Playing the Hand You've Been Dealt With
Photo by Marin Tulard on Unsplash

Playing the Hand You’ve Been Dealt

You may have heard the saying that life is what happens when you’re busy making plans, or one of many similar sentiments that are intended to inspire us to roll with the punches when something goes wrong. But let’s take it a step further: how do you create a mindset that allows you to adapt to the unexpected? How can we change our perception that something has “gone wrong” in a way that empowers us to accept changes to our plans?

When you deal with other people personally and professionally, you may already make it a habit to set expectations whenever you’re going to do something on their behalf. When someone feels you’ve promised something to them, they’re going to be upset when you don’t deliver. So you set expectations: you explain the steps you’re going to take to achieve what they want, and acknowledge the ways it might not work out or compromises that might need to be made. Now imagine treating yourself like that second party. Visualize what success looks like so you can plan for how to achieve it. With that framework in mind, try setting expectations for how you anticipate things going along the way and the steps you’ll take to achieve it. But acknowledge the possibility for unknown factors shifting your milestones or perhaps even changing the ultimate outcome. 

That’s the thing: the events which change our lives the most profoundly aren’t always things we planned for in advance. Surprises, misfortunes, and even unexpected opportunities are sprung upon us on a random Tuesday afternoon and completely alter the course of our lives. But if you were open to embracing the unexpected, you may find it easier to incorporate life’s surprises into the plans you were making. Planning and goal-setting are the most valuable to us when we recognize what they are: tools to help us make progress, frameworks to guide our way. They should absolutely be fair game to change when life throws us a curveball. If we look at our plans this way it’s much easier to reframe things as merely changes, rather than failure or disaster.

Remember, even the greatest successes probably look a little different than what was initially imagined.

– Dennison Silvio