Expect the Best, Prepare For the Worst
No one knows when adversity will strike – their career, a relationship, your health, finances or just life in general. The death of a loved one, an illness that you never thought would impact you or a financial crisis that you never saw coming. Everyone wants the best to happen in their life and if they had a choice, I'm sure most people would like to avoid adversity, difficulties and the fear of uncertainty, if they could. The best way to go through life is to always deal in reality, stay in the present moment, expect the best but always prepare for the worst.
There is a wide body of evidence over the past 100 years from a mixed variety of resources that all agree that there are nine areas that impact a person's life and its outcomes whether positive, negative or neutral;
-Degree of optimism or realism
-Managing your stress
Let's take a look at these in more detail.
One of the biggest causes of frustration and disappointment in life is the unrealized expectations life's outcomes. Why won't my: kids, spouse, employees, friends and so on, act the way I think they should? They never will, so relax and let it go.
The execution of all behavior by others is in their hands, not yours. I am not implying here that you should never have expectations. I am only saying that if you want to spend a lot of time and energy being disappointed, expect others and life to do – whatever you want or need!! Sooner or later everyone – yes, everyone in life – will let you down. That includes friends, parents, spouses, kids, bosses and customers.
To manage your expectations means that you understand that – life happens – period. We are all learning every day, either by accident, design, or on purpose, but we are all learning what life wants us to learn now.
One of the critical skills for ongoing success is the ability to bounce back from adversity. Sooner or later in life, everyone experiences failure, disappointment, and setbacks, or loses the desire or purpose to keep on keeping on.
Just because you have failed, doesn't mean you are a failure. Just because you have achieved success, that doesn't make you a success. Many people have hit bottom, only to climb out and achieve greatness later in life, and many people have done great things easily or early in life only to end up broke, alone and without any lasting feeling of accomplishment.
There has to be more to life than having everything, knowing everything and doing everything. There is, but its value will often be lost to you while you are in this relentless search for more. Resilience is not just about attracting and accumulating outside-in stuff, but gaining in inside-out wisdom, understanding, compassion, trust and patience.
Fear does strange things to many people. It causes them stress, anxiety, frustration, anger and uncertainty, and often immobilizes them against any action – rational or otherwise. Fear restricts blood flow, limits our vision, raises our blood pressure, and prevents clear thinking.
Fear – healthy fear – is a positive attribute in the right places and at the right times. It can prevent us from taking foolish and often life-threatening actions, and it can heighten our awareness that something is wrong or needs our attention. What is your typical reaction to those events, circumstances or people that bring fear into your consciousness? Do you run and hide? Confront it or them? Go into denial? Ignore it? Procrastinate on an action that will quickly eliminate the cause of your fear?
Years ago, I read a line that I have often forgotten when I needed it the most – when you confront your fears, you will overcome them. When you ignore that which you are afraid of, it will haunt your mind, body and life like a relentless villain.
Fear can be a positive emotion. But for most people, it stands between them and the fulfillment of their dreams. Refuse to let this character rule your life. Do something, anything. Take action. Do it now. Don't give fear a foothold in your life and your thoughts.
What is resolve? Is it persistence, commitment, dogged determination or just plain old self-motivation? Don't have an answer to that folks. I do know however, that it costs more to fail than to keep on keeping on. There is a point in every relationship, career, project or goal where our resolve to go on is tested. Winners realize that they have to break through this barrier before they can enjoy the real fruits of their labor. Quitters, on the other hand, give up at the first sign of resistance or adversity.
-Degree of optimism or realism
Years ago, Lionel Tiger wrote a book called: Optimism, the Biology of Hope. In it, Tiger puts forward the premise, after a great deal of research, that people who are optimistic tend to live longer and get sick less often than people who are pessimistic and negative. So in the middle we have realistic. What is realistic? No one knows. If you would have told an Emerson, Bell or numerous others that what they were experimenting with was unrealistic they would all have had to agree with you. So why did they continue the relentless pursuit of something new in the face of uncertain outcomes, constant discouragement, tremendous skepticism and public scorn? Because they didn't know what couldn't be done. They didn't know what was impossible. They kept at it not because they knew for certain that their efforts would sooner or later pay off, they kept at it because of their tremendous optimism. If they had been realistic, it could have been years later before we had a telephone or electricity.
Have you ever attempted something that you believed in for no obvious reason? What did people around you say? Be realistic. It can't be done. No one has ever done it.
In my opinion, being realistic is just another form of being negative. Who knows what isn't possible? No one. The only way we determine what is or isn't possible is to try. Problem is, many people give up just when they are on the verge of success. So their reaction is "I guess you were right, it is impossible. I was being unrealistic."
-Managing your stress
Are you slowly killing yourself? If you have never read an article about stress, you have probably just landed here from some distant planet. I will also wager, that if you are an employee, employer, parent, spouse, student, retired working – on and on – you know the symptoms of stress. You may not however be totally aware of the causes and how you are contributing to this deadly killer.
Each of us daily, even hourly, must confront people, circumstances and issues that bring with them a great potential for stress however we cannot stick our head in the sand and ask the world to go away. We must deal in the hectic, fast-paced, ever-changing world of business and relationships. And we must survive as well as we can as we go about these daily routines. Most of us create our own stress and our stress reactions. We do so in a variety of ways.
But most of all, we fail to keep any or all of these in perspective as we move through the moments and days of our life. So why do we do this to ourselves? And we do it to ourselves. No one does it to us.
We do it in the name of; success, financial gain, profit, competition, winning, better, bigger, sexier, younger, wiser, more and more and more. And in the long run, we end up with less. Less satisfying relationships, poor health, less fun, less happiness and less pure joy of living. We miss a friend's smile. We long for a peaceful day.
We cheat ourselves of the simple things of life that money cannot buy. Life is not perfect. Relationships are not perfect. Business is never perfect. People are not machines. Life is to be lived one joyous minute at a time. Stress keeps you locked in the future or the past and out of the present. Stress, in my opinion, is the single greatest threat to happiness, joy and a truly rewarding life. I hope I have your attention. If you are under stress, you don't need me to tell you. Your body is doing an excellent job of telling you this very minute. You are either ignoring the signals or overriding them with drugs, pills or stimulants of some kind.
Life outlook is everything when it comes to both the highs and lows of life. Life outlook says, "I can handle this, it's no big deal, things will work out, I'm better than what I am facing, I can overcome." Or it says, "I'm doomed, I'm not worthy, I'm going to crash and burn; things always turn out badly for me." Life outlook is the result of a variety of experiences, early conditioning, self-esteem and mindsets that are developed over the years.
If you want to prevent a variety of future valleys or at least their impact on your life, it would be wise to do a "Life Outlook" audit. By this I mean, spend some time reflecting on your past experiences and your reactions to them. You might also want to ask some of the people close to you a simple question, "How would you describe my life outlook?"
The number one reason why people fail to overcome difficult times and challenges is they fail to show appreciation for what they have and stay focused in what is missing in their life. There is conclusive evidence that people who can keep a mindset of appreciation have less trouble handling adversity than those who are always whining, complaining or staying stuck in a victim mentality.
It's been said that luck is nothing more than preparation meeting opportunity. So what is proper preparation? There are three areas; attitudes, activities and decisions. Proper preparation in your attitudes is to deal both in reality and what you can control. It makes no sense to fret over those things you can't control – wasted time, energy and effort. Worry is a killer and most people spend more time worrying about things they can't control than focusing on actions and behaviors in those things they can control.
Preparation in activities is simply using common sense, a practical life outlook and blending past lessons with future plans and goals then operating in your now moments with confidence and poise.
Preparation in decision making is all about learning from the past – it's mistakes, failures, wrong judgments and errors and learning from them. It's about not trying to just make right decisions but focusing on making the decisions made to turn out correctly. Wrong decisions can turn our well and right decisions can often turn out badly. The key to effective preparation is to be fully aware of your personal blind spots, prejudiced agendas and mindsets and personal beliefs that are not grounded in reality. Once you have accomplished this you are now ready to make better decisions, create sound plans of action and create the steps necessary to achieve your desired outcomes.
Let me close with a few questions;
What are your mindsets when it comes to these six vital life outlooks?
Are they creating inner peace. happiness and success?
Do you need to improve or change your approaches or attitudes in any of the above?
If yes, are you willing to do so?
If yes, when are you going to start and what are you going to do?
Make it a tremendousyear,
In His service,