"This is Not the Life I Signed Up For"
Updated: May 27
Life Lessons Series: Six of One Dozen of the Other- "This is Not the Life I Signed Up For"
Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, has been quoted as saying “change is the only constant in life.” How true is that? The past 26 months have certainly been full of change for all of us. Some good and some not so good. Personally, I take life one hour at a time these days. I know and accept that every hour of every day will likely bring some kind of change. I am finding myself to be more tolerant. I focus on the good things that are happening and find ways to smile and celebrate them.
When I look at situations, I work hard to understand the underlying causes and willfully find the good. There is so much in life to be thankful for. I read a quote by Oprah Winfrey that stuck with me, “the greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change their future by merely changing their attitude.” I just love knowing I can choose my attitude and shape my future. My mom and husband both share the superpower of instantly changing their attitude from bad to good. I really admire them both for this ability and strive to share this superpower with them one day!
I did some work in the Philippines a few years back. I absolutely loved the people there. They shared such a fierce love and devotion for their families. I have always been what I describe as “freakishly” close with my family. It was nice to be in good company with people who shared this same bond. One of the phrases they taught me was that “as long as there is tomorrow there is hope.” Such powerful words of wisdom to help navigate through change.
Try to Find the Bright Side
Unexpected change is not always amusing. Let’s be honest, unexpected change may not even be mildly entertaining. Make an effort to find humor in the situation and let yourself enjoy it. You may have to dig deep to find it, just know it is worth the effort and helps you to move forward.
I work in the real estate industry which is very cyclical. I think most of us, including myself, have been laid off at least once. I too have had the responsibility of laying off employees over the years. I always feel that if I can easily release an employee, I should no longer be managing people. These are real people with real lives and losing a job is painful. This is a tough meeting and no amount of warming up will make it any easier on you or the employee.
I was laid off a few years back and when the HR Manager told me I was being laid off, I stood up, hugged and thanked her profusely. I was so relieved. By the look on her face, she definitely had not expected my response. The owner of the Company was awful. I had wanted to quit for several months. The owner had a reputation for retaliating against anyone who voluntarily left. I had been trying to think of an exit strategy and could not have been more thankful. In hindsight, pretty funny!
With the right mindset, your own struggles can be a source of pure entertainment that warms the soul when you need it the most.
I always thought that talking about my problems that change brings helped to work through them. With age comes wisdom (hopefully- sometimes it comes alone). The older I have gotten the more that I can hear myself over talking a situation and causing myself additional anxiety and stress.
I now find it to be a delicate balance to talk through the issues, accepting that I may be angry or upset. Then focus on creating a game plan for the next steps to get to the other side of the road that change has brought. The bright side of change is that it brings new people into your life, an ability to learn about new things and allows for more things you did not know before to appreciate and celebrate! This balance is something I am still working on perfecting.
When the pandemic hit, my husband and I stopped traveling for the first time in 20 years. We took the opportunity to go to my mom’s house for dinner- a lot! My mom’s health has been declining and we found a way to go over and celebrate the days together. We took it a step further and created a Happy Hour Lounge in the garage. We have made great friends with many of the neighbors who stop by and say hello- some sharing a cocktail and others just a brief “stop and chat.” It continues to be great socialization for all of us and brings us so many smiles and so much laughter together.
Don’t Stress Out
Always remember that stress can be a good thing, if you choose the right attitude. How you react to a change and channel your stress is incredibly impactful for what comes next. Your mind is a powerful tool. If you believe stress will kill you, it will. If you believe stress will carry you through a tough situation, it will.
When you start to feel stressed, look at the root cause for the stress. Is stress gearing you up for something important? I do a lot of public speaking. I always laugh at myself that I apply to speak at conferences and events. I put a lot of work into any speaking engagements I do and am always well prepared. Each and every time the day before I present, I am stressed out. I always worry no one will show up or people will come and walk out mid-session. The stress helps me to stay on my game and present well. It becomes a tool that helps me succeed. I have gained credibility as a speaker to professional organizations over the past two decades and am regularly invited to speak because of this stress.
In the recurrent real estate industry, both annually and then periodically the markets adjust. The volume of business has peaks and valleys. Most analysts were predicting a downturn in volumes when the pandemic hit in 2020. Instead, most real estate companies experienced higher order volumes than they had ever seen in 2020 and 2021. It was a great ride! It was expected that the volumes would decline and they finally have. Look at how using this stress can help control the market downturn and strengthen your business. Choose the right mindset and channel the time to find solutions to better manage processes, workflows, staff and reporting. And call me if you need help…this is my core expertise in business. Which by the way makes me incredibly entertaining at cocktail parties. (Said jokingly, most people’s eyes glaze over when I talk about my work!)
Celebrate Your Values
Keeping your “eye on the ball” with what’s important in life can be a powerful tool when living through difficult life events. Remember how fortunate we are with the family, friends, religion, pets, travel, and more that surround us every day. These things are far more important than the change event. Find ways to celebrate moments, people, events and times that you have. Look for the good. After all, this too shall pass because as Heraclitus said, “the only constant is change.”
I read once that studies have shown that writing about a time when a particular value you hold has positively affected you makes a world of difference. I started blogging last year and find peace in sharing my life lessons. It continues to allow me to take the higher road in the face of change. I am living proof that who I am and what I hold dear in life cannot be compromised by any challenging situation. The one thing that you must do if you want to be more successful at dealing with change is to accept it!
My sister gave me a candle once that read “this is not the life I signed up for.” Truer words could not have been spoken. I still have the candle and it still makes me smile. (My favorite gift to her was a coffee mug that read “as far as everyone knows we are a nice normal family” but I digress.) Life is a short game. I don’t think anyone on their deathbed will wish they had worked more and spent less time smelling the roses surrounded by those they love. Use laughter to ease you across the road of change. Don’t allow yourself to fixate on the negative part of change. I always think it is ok for me to sit on the curb for a little bit when something happens, knowing I need to stand up quickly and move on. Don’t let the stress of a big change control you. Instead take control of the stress and use it as a tool for improvement. Even in the most challenging of times, make the time to celebrate your village- the family, friends, religion, pets, travel, and more that surround us every day. Always remember that “as long as there is tomorrow there is hope.”
What is Your Life Lesson…
Are you able to find humor with yourself in difficult situations?
Do you have a Happy Hour Lounge- figuratively or literally?
Do you use stress as a tool for improvement?
Who is in your Village?