How do you deal with the unexpected? A lesson in patience

If you’ve read my earlier articles you’ll know that 2018 is a BIG year for me. I left full time employment at the end of December to finally start my own coaching and consultancy business.

I was ready for this change. It felt like it had been a long time coming in some ways.  I’d spent time thinking this major transition through, looking forward to this new chapter in my career and planning for what are big changes in my work routine, environment and activities.

I’m a planner. I documented my first year goals and priorities for the first quarter to start out in an organised way and with good habits. I had this in hand. I was going to learn from others in my network and be ready to deal with the challenges that lay ahead.

Then everything came to a standstill both personally and professionally.

I was totally de-railed in a way I hadn’t planned for. A freak (and rather boring) accident led to me breaking my shoulder and elbow. Everything came to a standstill whilst I dealt with the pain, my physical limitations and no sleep. The first few weeks are like a blur where I was just existing with the help of my family and friends.

I was devastated when the doctors told me I’d have my arm in a sling for 8 weeks and full recovery would take much longer. This wasn’t the start to my new coaching and consultancy business that I’d envisaged. How was I going to work for myself with one arm? Even basic daily activities were difficult.

Taking back control

But I still had choices. I could spend the next 8 weeks watching box sets, eating crisps and not venturing outside or I could take back control. I chose the latter and in the process learnt some things.

Plans have value even when you can’t deliver them

There were things on my January plan that still aren’t complete. I can’t clear out the heavy files in my study easily or join a gym. But there were things I could still do.  I engaged with organisations to join their coaching supplier networks and ran coaching sessions over the phone from home once able to fully concentrate.

Having a plan as a starting point helped me to identify what I could do at a time it would have been easy to give up altogether.

Appreciating small wins is important

I have a tendency to be a perfectionist and can drive myself quite hard. Just looking at my January list with a few outstanding items in red is enough to make me start doubting myself. These feelings of not making progress can sometimes be magnified by those around you who ask in shock, “what an earth are you going to do now? You’re not getting any sick pay are you?”

I’m really proud of what I’ve managed to do whilst my arm is healing. I’ve grabbed opportunities like submitting my first solo proposal and developing content for my website (coming soon!). I’ve got some admin out of the way including formally setting up Needham Consulting Ltd too.

Whilst some of these are more significant than others

together they mean I am moving forward, even if the pace is different.

Resilience and patience go hand in hand

Resilience has been well researched and we know it can serve us well. I feel I’ve been pretty resilient but I’ve also noticed a link between patience and resilience.

It wasn’t easy to accept that I wasn’t going to be able to do many of the things I had planned, it felt disempowering and frustrating. But I noticed how I quickly moved through the process of accepting the situation. I was being more patient and that helped me to shift my expectations of myself and my business plans.

Being patient has helped me to adapt, achieve small wins and feel like I’m moving forward. It’s helped me to find ways to exercise, to get back to some serious walking and to prioritise where I spend my time when I’m working.

Patience and resilience together have helped me to use the time wisely rather than worrying about what I’m not doing.

Most importantly, I know that I am now running my own business and taking responsibility for the decisions that come with that. I have not put my plans on hold, but I have adapted them.

I’d love to hear about how you’ve dealt with the unexpected and what you learnt in the process. Please add your comments below or drop me an e-mail.