I am writing from the Holiday Inn at Chicago O’Hare Airport. Not because I planned on going to Chicago but because on my way home from bringing my 5 month old son to meet his great grandmother, our connecting flight was cancelled.
So what to do? Well first I transitioned into “go” mode. I was determined to control the situation. Within seconds of learning that our flight was cancelled, while still sitting on the runway in Chicago, I was on the phone with our airlines negotiating with the woman on the phone, shushing my baby, and telling my husband it will all be OK. It felt great to be the one to calm my family, assure them that it was going to work out. Often it is me who relies on my husband to lend me his calming perspective and now it was my turn.
I listened to the nice lady on the phone clicking away at her key board as I imagined her screen filled with possibilities that would get us home that night. Our dog, parents, and home all waiting for us. Our mail, our bed, the grocery shopping I would do for the week…all looming.
No go. After a few rounds of false hope and convoluted flight plans, it became evident we were spending the night in Chicago. This is when I decided to quickly do some self-coaching. Before the doom that often sets in when I feel I can’t control my situation I asked myself two questions: 1. What can I control? 2. How do I want to remember this night? I could control how I spent the next 18 hours in Chicago and I wanted it to be as relaxing and enjoyable as possible. I then asked myself what would be relaxing and enjoyable. A hotel, a car, and I wanted to take my family into the city. If we were stuck in Chicago…I wanted to see Chicago.
So with hotel and meal vouchers in hand, and a few other hoops to jump through, we eventually found ourselves eating deep dish pizza at Chicago’s Navy Pier, my husband with a beer in his hand, my baby wide eyed watching the lights of the pier’s carousel turn round an round, and me feeling very satisfied. Perhaps some of you, more calm and collected by nature would never have seen the possible doom in a cancelled flight. Some of you out there are more readily able to roll with the punches. I am not wired that way. I find deep comfort in a plan. I cling to plans with a fierce grip. Even if I don’t like a plan, when it changes for the better, I can often become stressed based on the fact that “it wasn’t the plan.” Somehow I was able to reach inside myself and say “this wasn’t the plan…but it could be”.
When the plan changes:
1. Ask yourself what can you control?
2. How do you want to remember this day?
3. What would it take to feel at ease in this present moment?
4. What do you need to make that happen?
Often I meet with clients who are frustrated because their “life plan” (work, relationship, ect…) has changed. This is what coaching is all about, this is when it comes in handy. Learning how to self coach is a valuable tool.