Plan for Lightning
Thunderstorms can be beautiful, unless the lightning hits your house. That’s why we have lightning rods. Lightning rods don’t prevent lightning. They provide a path to safely pass currents to the ground. Perhaps we also can plan for the figurative lightning strikes in our lives. In other words, plan for chaos. Plan for frustration. Plan for resistance. Expect your fridge might break down during your most stressful week at work. Don’t be surprised when the deadline for the grant is announced late when key staff members are out of town. Plan for the possibility that your daughter will tell you at 10 p.m. she needs brownies for homeroom in the morning.
Plan for those lightning strikes and build a personal lightning protection system. Stash brownie mixes in your pantry. Keep your ideas for grant proposals in a folder, ready to be used. Eat the fudge ripple ice cream in the freezer so it doesn’t melt. And learn to let go. Learn to let it pass through you.
Essentially, to manage frustration is to accept reality. I read somewhere that it’s OK to swish your feet in the waters of self-pity, but don’t dive in. Refocus yourself and accept that sometimes things don’t go according to plan. I’d also recommend learning to be fully present where you are. For example, if you sit through meetings checking email, you’re not contributing to the task at hand. If you’re focused on tomorrow’s big presentation, you could be missing great dinner conversations with your family.
Lastly, sometimes it’s not only that things don’t go according to plan, but sometimes I just can’t get the brownies made. So, it’s probably good to learn to forgive yourself. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
See you there.