As some point in every workday, it seems, I say to myself or sigh to a co-worker “I wasn’t planning on doing this today”. Now, I’m not rigidly married to a plan or a schedule, but I usually have three or four things to get done planned out for each day, and I try to stick to my list. Despite my best intentions, however, at some point in almost every day, the plan gets derailed. I’ve learned to take that in stride and to adjust to the situations the events of the day dictate. It wasn’t always that way.
When you create and run your own business, the tendency is to want to create a plan and stick to it. Having a plan and a direction is, after all, how most businesses are built, and sticking to a plan is how you set a direction and keep the business on track. Every business should have a plan, it’s a guidebook for where the business is headed, and a checklist for keeping things on the right path, but the plan can’t be followed too rigorously. Allowances have to be made for the fact that daily life will cause the plans to change, and acceptance of the idea that a change in plans does not spell disaster has to be cultivated. If you’re like me, achieving that state of acceptance may be difficult. Here are a few ways to achieve the zen of plan flux for yourself.
1. Acknowledge there are big plans and small plans – Everyone probably has some sort of plan for their workday, but not all plans are created equal. If you’re on deadline, then certain tasks must be done. If you promised you’d get something to a customer by a certain date, then that package should go in the mail. Those are big plans, with specific requirements and specific consequences if they’re not completed. Planning to clean out your e-mail box is a small plan, and the world won’t end if it’s not done today. Big plans take priority. Small plans can be postponed if circumstances require it.
2. Allow yourself some time to be irritated – You had a plan, which you made because you thought it was the best way to proceed, and it got changed, often through no fault of your own. This is irritating and you have the right to be irritated. Allow yourself some time to feel annoyed, but make sure it’s a set amount of time, fifteen minutes at most, and once your time to be annoyed is up, you drop the subject and move on.
3. Accept what you can’t control – The one sure thing we can control is our reaction to the events and people around us. Everything else may or may not be in our control depending on circumstances. If your plan gets changed and you have no control over that change, all you can do is accept what’s happened and go with the new flow of events. You control your attitude and a positive attitude will make any change of plans easier for you and those who work with you.