Learning to Adapt

As some of you may know, I had planned to do a full series on the Stages of Change model.  I started it, and as it turns out, it wasn’t really that interesting.  I know this because there were only two readers for three posts.  For all I know, it could have been the same reader.  Therefore, I have decided to move on.  One of the major tenets of my coaching philosophy is that our goals may change and that we have to learn to adapt.  Ok, so maybe that really counts as two tenets, but they do fit together quite nicely.  In the spirit of practicing what I preach, I offer you a completely unrelated post.

A reoccurring theme in my life is that of learning.  And thank goodness for that because in my personal philosophy I believe that we cease to live when we stop learning.  The thing that is so incredible about this theme is the sheer amount of that which I am learning.  When I stop to think about everything I have learned over the past several years, I can’t believe there is really any room left in my brain for it all.  I am learning how to be a wife, a mother, and a business woman.  I am also learning how to garden on a rather large-scale.  My knowledge of food preservation is also growing a great deal.  I am also spending some time getting to know myself even more because the roles I play in my life have changed drastically over the past four years.  It is simply amazing how much there is to learn and how much I wish to learn.

The interesting bit about learning is that it is not always experienced in the same way.  For instance, today, as I reflect on my learning journey, I feel excited and energized by my experience.  However, on the days my son is learning how to exert his independence by exploring all the drawers in my home, I feel frustrated by my experience of learning to teach him restraint.  It is a pretty broad spectrum of emotion that is experienced on the learning journey, but entirely necessary.  It is how we respond to these emotions that really shapes the learning experience.  I have found that it all really comes back to being patient.  I have chosen to do a number of things with my life that require a great deal of patience: motherhood, entrepreneurship, and homesteading.  I don’t think I have ever had to exercise this amount of patience at any other point in my life.

Some days when I am learning, I have minor meltdowns.  Admit it, you do too.  Those moments where words start flying out of your mouth that you seem to have little to no control over.  They are almost beings in their own right.    Hopefully, you have learned how to allow those meltdowns to only occur in the privacy of your own home, if not, I encourage you to find someone who can help you with that.  Also, if you have children, you may also need to learn how to stifle them until they are in bed, or at a friend’s house.  As we know, meltdowns are OK and forgivable, but not a really useful or productive means to dealing with life.  These moments of meltdown are when we need to lean on our partners and learn as a team rather than an individual.  For those of the sporting persuasion, I see learning more as a game of football than the 100 meter hurdles.

The experience of learning is as important as the specific skill you are developing.    That is a piece many of us forget.  It is so easy to forget because you are trying so damn hard to figure out how to teach your toddler not to throw food all over the flippin’ dining room…  That’s when you stop, and have a laugh with your partner about how silly it is to get frustrated over something so normal.  Most everything comes with time and it is important to enjoy the process of learning and growing.  In my life I am learning many new skills, but I am also learning lessons that just help me to become a better person, and isn’t that really what it’s all about?

Take a moment to think about a skill that you have acquired or improved recently.  What were the highs and lows?  Did you learn something about yourself in addition to the skill?  Share a bit of that story with us…we might all learn something 🙂

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How to Cure The Hiccups

I made it to yoga class today.  After a hiccup on Monday, it was nice to have everything fall into place and wake up my sleeping body.  I haven’t done any yoga in over a year, but it is just like riding a bicycle: once you are standing on that yoga mat, your muscles know what to do!  The instructor added a couple new poses to the flow and they were completely new to me.  At the end, she suggested taking home the ideas of flexibility and trying new things also mentioning how the two go together.  That got the gears turning in my head and connected up with my planned topic of “set-backs.”

Whenever there is a goal to be reached, the generally accepted practice is to make a plan to reach said goal.  For every long-term goal there are short-term goals and smaller steps that are part of the short-term goals.  The idea is that by mapping out all of these steps, a plan will be born that can be followed as a road map to the overall goal.  This is absolutely the way to go, but we so often forget that a lot can happen between Point A and Point B.  There are a lot of ways to describe what might happen on the journey (I used the term “hiccup” at the beginning of this post), but I’m going to use the term “set-back.”  Typically, if your work toward your goal does not go quite to plan, it is because something has gone awry.  We don’t dwell on occurrences outside of our plan that had a positive effect, but rather on those that slow us down or send us backwards.  We can choose to view set-backs in one of three ways: (1) negative (2) positive or (3) neutral.  It is VERY easy to go the negative route and become frustrated and discouraged.  It is more difficult to view them as neutral and just let the set-back go and move on.  It can be tough to turn the set-back into something positive, but this is where a person is going to experience the most growth and reap the most reward.

I have said this before: life is about enjoying the day-to-day experience of being alive.  This can be extremely difficult when faced with tragic or sad events, but there is always something to be learned.  If we never experience set-backs, we would never grow emotionally, socially, intellectually or culturally.  Set-backs often force us to be flexible and provide opportunities for us to try something that we never have or hadn’t thought of in the first place.  Set-backs also provide an excellent opportunity for you to reach out to your support system and seek out new ideas.  I experience set-backs on a fairly regular basis as a parent of a toddler, and this calls for much flexibility in my approach and a lot of calling on others for ideas.

I would like to call upon my readers to stop thinking of set-backs as simply negative experiences that make reaching a goal difficult.  Let’s begin thinking of set-backs as reminders: reminders that flexibility and openness can lead to creative new solutions.

Have any of you experienced a “reminder” that lead to something unexpected?