Following some advice a reader gave in the comments section, I’ve started reading The Career Journey by Ram Iyer. There will be a long post about that when I’m finished, but so far the book’s got me thinking about some of my personality traits, one in particular. In reflecting on the things I do well and my talents, I also start to recognize more acutely the things I don’t do well. And if there is anything I struggle with it’s this: I am terrible at dealing with changes in plans.
I like to have a plan of action, and I like to have something to look forward to. I always know what’s coming next, and if it’s something I’m excited about it’s like a reward for doing the things I know are part of the plan at the moment about which I might not be as excited. But life is life, and often things get cancelled, rescheduled, or changed. I would like to say that when plans change I’m flexible and I move on happily, but the truth is I get all bent out of shape. I start thinking irrationally and feeling disappointment. This is why I harp on expectation management for myself; I don’t think clearly when my plans change.
I’ve done a lot of thinking about it this week and I don’t think my inability to change my plans without stress is an inherently bad thing. It is, however, something I should be aware of, and I’ve got to learn to combat disappointment. Plans change for a reason. Factors outside my control make the original plan something that wouldn’t have lived up to my expectations anyway. And while irrational Kindall has trouble believing this, sometimes it’s for the better.
I’m not crazy enough to think I’m ever going to completely overcome my inability to deal with change. There are some things I’ll be stuck with all my life. But I do want to work on it and avoid disappointment when it’s mostly me allowing myself to be disappointed rather than a disappointing event that causes my feelings. There has to be some way to manage it.
In the context of The Career Journey I think it’s important to think about the things I hate or don’t do well as much as my talents when I’m considering what I want to do and where I want to be in my career. I’m clearly not cut out for a career in which the majority of the things I plan or produce have the potential to be overturned or drastically altered. I need a structured, fairly predictable purpose in life. There still has to be room to adapt to unforeseen challenges and allow innovation, but I will have to be purposeful in making plans and re-planning when something changes if I’m going to like what I do.
This is all very abstract and makes me seem incredibly rigid and boring, but it’s something to think about. How do I move outside my comfort zone to enlarge it while also learning to operate within it?
How do you deal with a change of plans?