When plans go pear-shaped… how fast can you re-calibrate?

A week ago I took a wrong turn and, being extremely navigationally challenged, instantly became horribly, hopelessly lost. Fortunately, because I am so navigationally challenged, I was well equipped for this mishap. My nav-man quickly saved the day by chiming in calm, competent, soothing instructions.

2020 has been a year of unexpected upsets and seismic shifts in landscape and expectation. Nothing has landed quite how we expected. 2020 is hammering home, again and again, the importance of resilience and flexibility and adaptation.

In a rapidly shifting landscape, I have had my own share of personal upsets and unexpected events over the past two months. The measure of who we are and who we become is not what happens to us, but how we respond to it. When something unexpected happens, how quickly do we re-find our footing? When our world wobbles, how fast do we catch our balance? How solidly and courageously do we lean into healing and repair? How focused are we on the gift of new opportunities and learnings? Do we see challenges as an experience, or an excuse to wallow and wail?

Earlier this year I set very ambitious and courageous goals for myself, determined to kick butt in some of the larger novel-length writing projects. This chugged along nicely for a time. I finished two and was poised to dive into number three when I hit some personal setbacks this past month or two. These upsets bit pac-man sized chunks out of my resources of energy, capacity and time.

When a storm hits, you have to set aside what you can and focus on what you need to. Energy is a finite resource. When stretched thin, you’re better off doing some things well than all things shabbily.

With those challenges behind me and many new learnings under my belt, it is now time to pick myself up and focus on the horizon once more.

Getting back on track is very important for my mental health. Staring back over our shoulders whinging about the could of/should of/would of beens is not healthy for us. In the wise words of faithful navigational systems around the world, we need to re-calibrate. We need to get back on track, even if that track has been changed by circumstances. We need to remember that, in most situations, the destination remains the same — no matter what life throws at us.

An upset is not an excuse to stop or wallow. It may be a reason to pause and heal, to set something aside or to re-calibrate, but getting our boots back on the road (including on a road to recovery) is always more empowering than sitting in the mess complaining about how unfair or unexpected something was.

So, I am back up and at ‘em! I don’t know whether I will set aside one of the four half-finished, novel-length projects I aimed to finish by the end of 2020, or just bump the finish line forward a month or two into next year. The destination remains unchanged — I will continue to slice out intense, focused, purposeful chunks of time to finish large-scale projects in a landscape of short stories and blog entries.

What do you find helpful in picking yourself up from an upset?

How quickly does your internal navigational system re-calibrate a new path?

First published 20 August 2020

Nicole writes short stories and novel length speculative fiction and a weekly blog https://nicolewalshauthor.com/ or www.facebook.com/nicolewalshauthor