The following is a guest post by MMD from My Money Design, a personal finance blog about creating strategies for achieving financial freedom.
Whenever I travel, it’s always the same. On the way to the airport, the rain starts to fall. So when I park my car a million miles away, I’m sure to get to soaked.
The plane is usually delayed due to the weather, so I do my best to pass the time. When we land, I’m back outside in the rain and wind, and lost trying to find the rental car office. After a half hour on the computer, the rental car agent finds my reservation and I’m off to drive on roads I’ve never been on before.
The GPS in my phone doesn’t seem to be getting a signal in this city. Good thing I printed the directions to my destination, but it’s a little tough to read them while driving. And just when I think I’ve got the hang of it, it looks like there’s construction up ahead!
Finally! Here’s my hotel. Oh, what’s that? The storm knocked out the power and you can’t check anyone in? I guess I’ll get back in my car and go kill some time at a nearby Chili’s.
Is the Deck Stacked Against Me?
Every day in our lives, we encounter any number of situations where it feels like every force imaginable is against us. What gives? Is everyone going to pile on me today?
And sure it would be all too easy to play the part of the victim; to assume that our luck has anything to do with it. To a small degree, it does.
I’ve always liked the analogy of life being like a card game because we never know what hand of cards we’re going to get that day. Sometimes you get handed a straight-flush, and other times you barely get a pair. You could declare “that’s not fair”, but that’s life. It’s just the way things go.
The real question is what do you plan to do about it? How are you going to make the most of the hand you were dealt?
Our Dependency Makes Us Less Creative:
It is my belief that our disappointment to things going wrong stems from our lack of ability to handle situations that seem foreign to us.
From a young age, we’re trained to be so dependent on everyone else. I’m a parent, and I know this. Get me chocolate milk. Wake me up in the morning. A reminder to do your homework.
While we naturally begin to take over responsibility for some of these things as adults, our wiring for problem solving and overcoming challenges still needs exercise. We still EXPECT that just because we’ve made a plan that everything is going to stick according to it; that everything is going to go smoothly down a path that someone has crafted for me.
But of course that doesn’t happen. And when it doesn’t, the last thing you want to be is helpless.
Observe and Adapt:
Anyone can walk from point A to B. Anyone can learn a sequence of buttons to push to make a machine work. However, what is invaluable is how someone manages to turn a situation of lead into gold.
The true test of our success comes from how we react to the challenges we face. When things don’t go the way we planned, that doesn’t mean we’ve been dealt a bad hand. It just means you’ve got to work a little harder than the next guy to get what you want.
We’d all do better to learn to stop trying to control everything in life, because it’s never going to happen. The road may be jammed tomorrow. The stock market may crash. But how you observe, adjust, and adapt will depend on how creative you are to deal with whatever life wants to throw at you.
Your coping skills are both like a muscle and an art. As a muscle, they need exercise to grow and get stronger. And as an art, you need to recognize the uniqueness of each situation and apply the right tools to combat it. I may never know why it has to rain every time I travel, but that’s not important; nor is it anything I can control. All I have is power over is how I can react to the circumstances.