I was involved in a conversation today about how learning to live a flexible life is a game changer.
I used to live with a destination mindset.
You know, the one that said things like,
‘When this happens, then I’ll be happy.’
‘When this ends up working, then I’ll be satisfied.’
‘When I arrive at this point in my life, then I’ll have made it….’
And so on.
The problem with that was that life had a habit of constantly changing course on me,
Of never ‘reaching’ the expectation I had set for it.
I never arrived at my pre-determined destination.
And I spent a lot of time wondering why I wasn’t happy.
I then coined one of my life’s mottos….’Life is a journey.’
I discovered that I had to learn to move with the day in, day out rhythm of it,
And enjoy the ride,
Rather than wait for it to reach the destination.
Life often happens in ways we don’t always plan.
It takes some sharp, left turns at times.
Catches you off guard.
It lets you down.
It takes your breath away,
Not in a good way.
The phone calls that leave you in shock.
The events that weren’t part of the plan.
What do you do when things don’t go the way you had hoped them to?
Do you get stuck and dig your feet in?
Do you stay sweet or start to sour?
Do you stay humble or let the skin of pride become your new veneer?
Do you take courage or hide in the shadows of fear and disappointment?
Do you get flexible?
Part of getting flexible is owning your story.
The fragments of your life that didn’t work,
That don’t have sheen,
The parts that you would like to put in the ‘failure box’.
The bits that no one likes to talk about but unless you do,
You seem to stay stuck there,
In the story of your pain.
The fact is,
Everyone has these detours in life.
Everyone has a life that requires malleability on the part of the person living it.
I haven’t met anyone yet who has had everything go the way they had dreamed.
Everyone struggles with loss, failure, change, disappointment etc at different points in their lives.
The difference between those who live a contented, fruitful life and those who get stuck,
Are that the first group have added the trait of flexibility into their tool kit.
They have also realised that change,
Can actually work in your favour,
And not always be something you didn’t want.
Those watershed moments are what often define us.
I know that the moments I didn’t see coming,
Are the very ones that have shaped who I am for the future.
When I have owned those events,
And not cowered in their presence,
I have grown and developed as a human,
My shoulders have broadened.
I’ve become more resilient.
Not that it was easy.
But it was worth taking the curve balls when they slapped me in the face,
Because in retrospect they caused the greatest fruit.
On talking with some of my friends,
And asking them what they’ve had to be flexible with,
Some responses were things like,
Letting go of a friendship that they were heavily invested in,
One they thought would run the distance,
But that needed to be short circuited for the sake of self preservation and survival.
Another story was grappling with the daily pain and limitations of rheumatoid arthritis whilst raising a young family
And trying to hold down a job.
Being blindsided with the fact that her husband had been having an affair and making the decision to leave.
And still another,
Coping with the reality that the dream she’d had of starting her new business,
Had not only failed,
But had cost her financially and emotionally.
What do we do when life throws us lemons?
One suggestion is to add salt and tequila!
Definitely finding time to detach temporarily from the challenge is a good strategy,
But you can’t stay there.
Adding salt and tequila might be a temporary fix,
But the wounds go much deeper than that,
And unless you deal with them,
They’ll eventually deal with you.
It takes courage to live a flexible life.
It takes vulnerability.
It takes renewing your perspective daily,
Allowing fresh mercies to flood your reality.
Being willing to surrender to the journey,
Whilst understanding that perhaps part of it meant that you needed to deviate from your intended destination for a while.
So own your story.
Reach out to others and get support.
Step out of the conflict and ask yourself how to respond to the situation as if you were someone else looking in on it.
Get away if you have to and find time to reflect, collect yourself and develop a support system and a strategy to help you move forward.
Be honest with yourself and with others.
Don’t let shame and failure cover you up.
But be heroic and weave those elements into your story.
Maintaining a flexible life in this day and age is no longer an option,
It’s a necessity.
So develop a mindset that allows the curve balls of life,
So that when they come,
You are prepared.