How To Manage The Unexpected

When was the last time you had to deal with an unexpected event and you had a lot to lose from it? Some of the worst moments result from catching you off guard.

One such moment for me occurred when I was about to close on my first real estate investment deal. The mortgage was taking longer to process than I expected.

This timing interfered with a big life change, one that sped up sooner than I had predicted. This meant I could lose a hard fought loan and also run the risk of letting my investor/partner down.

I felt like a victim as a result of these surprises. What control did I have? Why did life have to be unfair? The secrets to managing these thoughts led me to end up with a better result than I could have imagined.

What are they?

Space

When you get blindsided, you won’t be in the best mindset to make any big decisions. Any attempt at analysis or problem solving will be futile. This is because suppressing your feelings of victimization or frustration will only hurt you.

When you aren’t in the right head-space, your perspective narrows. You won’t see all the possibilities and you stop considering others’ points of view. How effective do you think any decisions you make in this state will be?

Instead, the better first step is to take a step back and give yourself some space. This applies even to the most urgent situations. There are various ways of doing so but they’re worth the time to do.

One way is to practice mindfulness. Meditation is beyond proven to have great and lasting effects on your mental state. This doesn’t have to be a huge time investment either. Even just three minutes can change everything. If you make this into a daily practice, then you also gain the ability to tap into an anchored state of being whenever you need it.

Another is to take a walk. Get your body moving and into a change of scenery. Keeping a journal so you can free-write how you feel in the moment is also helpful. I actually use the latter whenever I feel stuck. Writing helps with self awareness, which leads to self management.

Regardless of your chosen method, if you give yourself some space to reorient yourself, you’ll avoid being sucked into a downward spiral.

Options

After you regain perspective, then you can start considering your options. Some of the questions you may ask yourself now are:

  • What do you currently have to choose from?
  • Who can you turn to for help or advice?
  • What is at stake here?
  • Why is this important to me?

Sometimes you may realize there are more choices than you originally thought. These situations may call for you to gather more data. Other times, you realize some of the options aren’t as bad as you thought because what’s most important to you would still be fulfilled.

That is why your values matter. What choice will allow you to sleep at night? What will allow you to live with yourself? Don’t be surprised; there will be times when your answer isn’t the most financially profitable one.

For me, I could not let down my partner and delaying my own plans wasn’t as bad in comparison. Delaying that life change also gave me opportunities elsewhere. That change in perspective gave me the confidence to find an option that didn’t violate any of my convictions and create an action plan around it.

Uncertainty

Even after you choose your path, that’s not the end of it. You also have to deal with the uncertainty of seeing your plan play out and its success or failure. That waiting period can feel like an eternity when it’s all you can think about.

Try these tips if you feel like you’ve done all you can and the rest is matter of time (or fate).

Seneca, a famous Stoic philosopher, advocated setting aside a few days once in awhile to live on the barest of necessities. This mean the cheapest food one could cook, the worst clothes and spending the nights sleeping somewhere that isn’t your comfy Casper bed.

While you don’t have to take this practice literally, the principle is to question if this is truly what you were afraid of. If the “worst-case” scenario happens, will it be that bad? If you are alive and still driven, what are a few setbacks? Most of the time, you realize that things aren’t as bad as you thought.

As FDR said, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

Here is another perspective that could help you. What is this setback in the long term big picture of your life?

Every single successful person had to deal with numerous setbacks before they “made it.” Some of their setbacks even seemed fatal. But they pushed on because they knew this was all part of the process and they had faith in that process.

No great story exists without the storyteller mentioning the obstacles and hopelessness involved before success. No genius can reach the top without knowing what it’s like to be resilient.

And So…

Handling change is hard enough without it suddenly dropping on your head. But life doesn’t particularly care about that. This is where you can learn to take such events in stride and see how you can turn them into opportunities.

Don’t end up like the complainers who give up. You can consider one’s reaction to life’s crisis as the ultimate barometer of one’s ability to succeed. Where do you think you fall on this?


Originally published at mikexhuang.com on September 14, 2017.

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