I had planned to explore the benefits of kindness this week in The Brain BS ™ Blog and Podcast but no matter how hard I tried; I could not write the darn thing to save my life! So rather than speaking on the virtues of kindness and why it is so important, we are going to talk about how to know when it is time to throw in the towel and make a pivot. Sometimes the best laid plans do not work out the way we envisioned, so we must accept that and be prepared with a Plan B.
Okay, so here goes. I am writing this at 7:44 pm central time on Monday, Sept 13th, the night before my blog post is due. I made my first attempt to write a blog on kindness at 8:30 am the same morning. It took me roughly 11 hours (not straight through, I am not that crazy!) to throw in the towel and decide to write about something else. Now normally, I would not keep trying to push through that long, but I did make a reference to the topic of kindness in my Facebook group this morning and on my podcast episode last week. Nevertheless, I am finally conceding that this post on kindness just ain't gonna happen today. Sometimes, no matter how much we plan, the Universe has something else in store for us.
I am guessing that for some of you, veering from your original plans might be kind of challenging. Maybe you feel like you are giving up? Obviously, I had a little resistance to that, or I would not have tried to write the darn thing as long as I did. Now that I have changed my mind and decided to extoll the virtues of a Plan B however, the words are flowing onto the paper. For whatever reason, it has become obvious to me that I am not supposed to be exploring kindness today and that is A-okay. When the energy and alignment is out of whack and it just feels off, something has got to give. This has inspired me do a little review of my life so I can share a few other examples of how making a pivot served me better than sticking with Plan A.
Alright, let’s start with one of the first major pivots I made in my life. As you might recall from previous blog posts and podcast episodes, I was not much of a student my freshmen and sophomore years of high school. In fact, I got Ds and Fs and flunked conduct. I was so preoccupied with trying to be popular, that I was pretty much a hot mess. By my junior and senior years, I cleaned up my act quite a bit, but nobody thought I would ever go to college. In fact, my parents confirmed that with ten kids, it was most important for the guys to get a paid education because they would need to be providers for a family. They proposed that I take shorthand and typing so that I could be a secretary until I got married and could then rely on my husband to take care of me (No, I am not making this up!). I actually got so good at shorthand that I competed with other students down at the local University, and I also learned how to type pretty fast. I did my part and it looked like my Plan A was solidly in place.
Unfortunately, there were a few obstacles with Plan A that I could not predict. For instance, when I got my first office job, I had major problems with staying at my desk and this was problematic since I was supposed to be the receptionist. I was also quite young and had a penchant for staying out late and coming in hung over, which did not win any of them over either. Let’s just say it became clear to me rather early on, that Plan A had some serious flaws, but I was too clueless to understand the magnitude of them (I mean I did not get married until 40 so that’s a whole other story, LOL) Long story short, all of the reasons became more evident to me as to why I should not be a desk worker when I eventually got fired!(Only time I have ever been fired by the way). Oh well, it was time to find a Plan B I guess.
In retrospect, losing that job was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It inspired me to take a traveling photographer position instead that required me to move away from home and travel throughout Michigan, Iowa, and Nebraska. That was a plan B I never envisioned! I only ended up doing that job for a year, but it was enough to give me the sweet taste of freedom and independence and I loved it. That sense of adventure became a big part of who I was and would guide many of my decisions over the next decade. Living on my own made me more accountable, forced me to take responsibility for everything in my life, and required me to gradually mature (albeit with resistance). I would not be the same person I am today if I never had the courage to leave home and go on my own. Instead of working in an office, I got work in the restaurant business and worked as a waitress/and or bartender for the next 14 years. I made lots of friends, got to move around while I worked (yes, I am one of the fast ones), and never had to sit at a desk again.
While the restaurant business served me well for many years (pardon the pun), I eventually could not stand it any longer and needed to make a pivot. I realized after about seven years that I would end up in jail for killing somebody if I did not find something else to do. I also recognized that I was not living up to my potential and was stuck in apathy. It took me several more years, but I finally started college at the age of 27 after applying and getting accepted to three different schools. To say that pivoting from Plan A, being a restaurant worker, to Plan B, being a college student. was quite the transition, would be a huge understatement. This was a pivot that probably required the most courage of me and one that continues to pay off for me to this day.
I could go on with multiple examples of college pivots impacting my life because I am a lifelong learner and obsessed with gaining knowledge (which is a far cry from my Plan A version of myself that i had in the past). However, I want to explore another Plan B with you. I want to tell you about my pivot from eldercare consultant to life coach. After I graduated from my post professional occupational therapy doctorate program, I decided to start an eldercare consulting business. Boy, I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into! I created my website, printed out my business cards, and signed up for the local chambers. Just when I was really starting to get a feel for networking, Covid hit and everything came to a screeching halt. This was a problem because I had no Plan B. That is until my pool contractor told me about Brooke Castillo and The Life Coach School. It took less than a week for me to find my Plan B which is how the Universe works sometimes. While many people experienced the worst year of their lives in 2020, I signed up for major personal growth, coaching certification, and the best Plan B ever!
In terms of my personal life, I had to pivot to a couple Plan Bs as well. For one, I always said when I was younger that I would never marry somebody who was divorced. I was raised Catholic and pretty set in my self-righteousness and sense of right vs wrong. Second, even though I was not driven by reproducing an offspring, I still thought I would end up having children because most women do. By the time I got married however, it was too late for me (or maybe it was never going to happen at any age for me). I experienced full on menopause in my late 30s so who knows if kids would have ever been an option. Lucky for me, my Plan B included a wonderful husband who happened to be divorced and four stepdaughters instead of having my own birth children.
This also required an internal pivot to find a way to make this Plan B just as fulfilling as what I thought Plan A would do for me. Turns out, the circumstance is never what causes us to feel anything. It is always our thoughts that trigger our feelings, that lead to actions to give us our results. I spent a great deal of my time as a stepmom feeling a bit like an outsider and less significant than the rest of my family (f you recall, I also felt like this in my family of origin and thought nobody really cared what #9 has to say) It wasn’t because of anything they did in either family, it was because of the way I was thinking about myself and my role in my family. I am happy to report though that one of the biggest and best pivots I have made, is an internal shift where I now understand that I have control over my own emotions. I know now that I get to decide how I fit in and what my role is wherever I may be. So instead of viewing myself as somebody who got married late and could not have her own children (lack of Plan A), I view myself in a much more positive and empowering way. I am a valued family member in both my families, my life is totally full, and I absolutely love being a life coach (abundant Plan B).
In conclusion, sometimes things just don’t go the way we planned no matter how much we try to make them work. There is no shame in making a pivot and looking for a solid Plan B. Usually it turns out that we are just a little mixed up with what we think our Plan A is supposed to be in the first place, and the Universe is wiser than us. When you notice that a task or goal is getting too complicated or you just can’t seem to make something work, you might want to consider shifting your energy and making a pivot to Plan B. Join me in The Brain BS Podcast to discuss this further.