What to Expect When You're (Not) Expecting...

As I write to you today, I sit in what can only be described as not-so-proverbial quarantine. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting precautionary measures taken throughout the world - shuttering of schools, restaurants, retail chains, etc. - life has been anything but ordinary over the recent weeks. It has all been so surreal, so unexpected.


It's been unlike anything I have ever experienced, extending to the corners of the world, crippling economies, stifling routine. What's a person to do amidst such unusual circumstances? Seems there are two choices - so distinct from one another, so drastically different. Adapt and Act or Accept and Wait.


It's clear the obvious choice here, in the ring of chaos and uncertainty, is to adapt, to act. But how? Everything we once considered normal and easy has been stripped of its normality and ease...


1️⃣ STEP ONE: GET INFORMED

If you are going to adapt to anything you must first know that to which you must adapt, right? In any situation, it's important to understand how it is impacting (and will impact) your world, both directly and indirectly. As an example, at Helium, we source our books from local libraries - if they close due to coronavirus concerns, we are admittedly put in a tough spot. We had to (and will continue to have to) remain current as to libraries' operating status and contingency plans. It's critical in our planning to understand how our supporting resources are being affected.


To put it more generally, when you are hit with the unforeseen, the unexpected, take the necessary time to see the full picture. Truly comprehend the impact, both near- and far-reaching. Think of all the ways your life may change. And, think about how the lives of those you rely on (in your job, in your relationships, in your day-to-day life) may change. The better informed you are the better prepared you are for step two.


2️⃣ STEP TWO: HAVE A PLAN

Few actions are more powerful than those made with intention. Once you begin to grasp the situation and understand the uncertainty, focus on what you can do. There are going to be many things that come to mind that you cannot do as a result of your unforeseen circumstances. But, it is vitally important not to dwell on the cannot and to pour your energy into the can. See the opportunities that do exist.


Then, devise your plan. What can you do right now and in the next few days to not only help see you through this unusual time, but to help you excel through them? Say, for example, you were laid off, totally out of the blue. You had no idea it was coming...until it came. You have taken a step back, analyzed the situation, understood why things are unfolding the way they are, and how you will be affected. No, your family likely cannot afford some of the luxuries it once did when steadily employed. No, you likely cannot live a worry-free life for the time being. But, you can adjust your budget to stay on track. You can apply to jobs (maybe a new field!), continue networking, and put some fear to rest. Make a detailed plan (down to the day, even hour) to do that which allows you first to survive, then thrive in the face of what, on the surface, appears as impenetrably bad news. It may seem like a lot, but, if you are to not only survive, but thrive, massive action is required.


With a plan in place, move on to the final step, step three. At this point the motivation you've created through action should propel you forward.


3️⃣ STEP THREE: EXECUTE

A plan is just words on paper if not taken and brought to life. Follow through. Do what you said you were going to do. Even if you don't necessarily feel like it. Live with integrity. Live up to your word.


Action begets action. Take one step, the next will follow, and the next...and before you know it, you'll be stepping beyond your original plan, excelling at an even higher level. Thriving.


Unfortunately, for me and the other 'planners' out there, unexpected events cannot be foreseen. They cannot be the subject of careful thought and reason before they occur. However, they can be handled with grace and courage. Stress abounds in times such as these, don't give in. Rise up to the challenge. Follow these three steps and show yourself and the world that you are stronger than the situation you find yourself in, that you are capable of overcoming any obstacle.


Welcome the unexpected. They provide an opportunity to dig deeper into yourself, to grow into a better, more confident individual.

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