Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday's Mantra: Expectation vs. Reality

Every Monday, I propose a mantra for the week to help you focus your work and interrupt those self-defeating patterns that rob us of serenity. Need a mantra for something specific? Email me at Heather at post your thoughts below.

For this week, let's focus on this mantra:

Just because things aren't going as planned doesn't mean they're going haywire.

You set up an interview and the source never calls. You exchange a million emails and phone calls with a client only to have your latest marketing effort rejected. It can feel like everything is out of whack. But just because things aren't going the way you planned them doesn't mean they're going wrong.

What do I mean? Let me give you an example: I'm coming out of an extremely abundant, busy period that required a lot of balancing of projects. Often I woke in the morning feeling like the day had already gotten away from me and worried about the things from the day before that didn't go according to plan. There didn't seem to be enough time, enough talent and enough stamina to make it through.

Yet every day I did. Somehow--in a way that I didn't plan for, despite all my best efforts--I got exactly what I needed for the day. I got my projects done--and not just done but done well.

In these moments, it's not enough to plan: You have to choose your perspective. Are things out of control because my carefully planned to-do list flew out the window every day? Or is my Higher Power guiding me to a gentler and more surprising way of accomplishing my dreams? This is along the same lines as last week's mantra, but it's not the same thing. Whether you struggle over how your day is going is beside the point for our purposes this week.

The point this week is to focus on the positive: What is working? What is working out better than you had planned? Where are the little surprises and blessings coming from today? Is it more important for me to feel in control or for things to work out?

This gets back to what the Buddha says: Among other things, everything and everyone changes. We have to plan for the day but expect things to change. It's a dynamic. And it's also not personal. It's not a judgment of us if our greatest business plans don't happen as we expect. All we can do is make the effort.

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