The Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote those words in 1786 and they expressed a universal human truth that hit a nerve. Countless people have cited them over the years, with many twists and funny interpretations spun in as well.
The devil fools with the best-laid plans.
Those words came to me again recently when I had my weekly schedule carefully made to include several major projects getting completed. I am sure you can imagine and commiserate with what happened.
The very first day, an emergency issue came up that took up most of the day’s time and my brainpower. But no worries! I had “planned” for such disruptions and had extra time built in. I figured I still could achieve the completion of all my weekly goals.
Ha! The next day started out well but quickly went downhill (awry?) when a “short” doctor appointment took over 2 hours because the doctor got held up by an emergency. In these times of COVID, those issues take up more time and energy than before, don’t they?
I try not to make plans. Because, even the best-laid plans etc. etc.
No worries, I thought, again. I can prioritize and make sure I get the most important, time-sensitive goals accomplished this week. The three remaining days represent over half of the time I scheduled so all is not lost.
I am sure you have caught on to the gist of this by now. Those remaining days were similarly messed with by the gods of chaos and my spirits flagged. By Friday morning, I was struggling with the reality that I’d mainly been putting out fires all week and had only accomplished ALMOST one of my many goals.
Usually, I would get stuck in denial and attempt to get done in one day what I had realistically planned to do over the course of several, which would cause me to totally panic whenever anything went wrong. This time, however, I decided to do things differently.
GET GROUNDED and BREATHE
I took a moment to sit quietly and breathe, attempting to clear my mind. (Of course, I know how to do this, I even know how effective it is, having done it with much success over the years; yet I will resist it for some reason). So I had to make myself do it, when every fiber of my being was shrieking to just get to work.
After about five minutes—it really doesn’t take long—I was calmer and able to make decisions about what I could actually achieve with what was left of the week. And I did it. Don’t get me wrong—I was still disappointed that the week had not gone the way I wanted. But I did the one task that mattered most, and I took the time to do it well and that felt good.
It also became clear to me that this is just how life is. After doing some research before writing this blog, I saw that instead of viewing it as a failure, I could recognize the successes instead. The emergencies that came up were important to me, things that I will always prioritize in my life—supporting a business acquaintance through a serious problem in a way only I could do— and a family matter, which is really why I do anything I do. At the end of the week, and while writing this, I now see that, in life, things always go better when I remember to breathe.
Written by: Dawn Lopshire
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