by Jenny Leigh Hodgins
BIG PLAN A
I’ve had surprising challenges since I set out to achieve personal goals. I made bold decisions to leave a career I’d outgrown, sell my home, move out-of-state to become caregiver for my aging parent, then use my new situation to apply myself toward my lifelong dreams of freelance writing and music composing.
CHANGE CAN BE AWKWARD
I’ve learned through this process that just because I’m doing something for a good reason (help my mother and relieve other family members) doesn’t mean it will be easy or even appreciated by others. In fact, big changes bring out big obstacles. People need time to adjust to significant transitions. Sometimes the initial shift brings out uncomfortable aspects within a relationship or from within a person. People just flat-out respond differently (including me). I’m learning to check my expectations at the door, lower my judgements, strive to listen to opposing perspectives, and work on the only person I have control over; me.
EXPECT NOTHING TO BE EASY
I’ve also learned that going after my dreams doesn’t mean they will be handed to me on a silver platter. In fact, it’s been my experience that thinking the hardest part is over is almost always wrong—Something more difficult or unexpected often presents itself. It is best to prepare myself to expect nothing to be easy, and to forge a life-state ready for impending challenges.
I’ve found that being true to myself and going all out for my dreams means I may face resistance in the form of judgement from others whose values differ from my own, or who have an outdated version of me in their psyche. That means I must embolden myself to withstand countering views, to stand my ground and persist on paving my new pathway without support or understanding. Again, expect nothing.
WHEN PLAN A LEADS TO PLAN B
Reflecting on myself through this process of obstacles, I’ve have found my weaknesses as well as strengths I didn’t realize were in me. On the plus side, I’ve discovered that despite the fact my best laid plans were completely skewed from the start, I have qualities that enable me to push through and create Plan B.
Let me share a bit of my story to make my point; My plan to sell my home, use the profits to cover 6-months’ expenses for my out-of-state move while building my freelance career, was utterly botched by an inexperienced realtor, and an unforeseen hurricane. My home was under contract to close when I moved to Kentucky from Florida last July. But the buyer strung me and my realtor along a series of peculiar delays that I now know, in hindsight, should’ve been avoided by my realtor quickly cancelling that buyer’s contract early on to put my lovely home back on market immediately. Instead, that buyer failed to win loan approval after two months’ delay, then a hurricane of historic power struck near my home, causing a housing slow-down (fortunately no damage to my home).
Afterwards, as I stressed urgency to my realtor, she had an unprofessional melt-down, and vindictively sabotaged my home sale based on emotionalism. Though I attempted giving her time and the benefit of doubt, due to no showings in 5 months, I finally found a second realtor. My new realtor showed the home 11 times in less than 2 months during the slowest (holidays) season, and I’m under contract to close within a month from now. (Whew!)
VALUE OF STRUGGLES
This is only a partial view of the story, as I’ve simultaneously dealt with additional challenges as a caregiver, and with family issues that slowed down my focus on establishing my income as a writer and composer. But, I’ve also had a variety of mystic protection and benefits.
I was eligible for disaster relief due to the hurricane, even though my home suffered zero damage! This allowed me nearly 6 months of freedom from a credit card and mortgage payments! I also managed to grow my IRA more than $5K than I anticipated, and found an amazing, trustworthy financial investment manager (through a trusted, well-to-do family friend) who will aggressively grow my IRA rollover well beyond what my small teacher pension could produce. I had a wonderful group of capable men volunteer (in 20°, snowy weather) to move my belongings from an expensive to affordable, more convenient storage unit! I have a community of peer composers who tutor me free of charge at all hours of day or night in technological aspects needed for my music production skills.
I’m grateful for these wonderful benefits, but find my struggles exponentially more valuable. Through adversity, I’ve begun to forge tenacity, resourcefulness, flexibility, appreciation, develop patience, tap into my inherent wisdom, and fuel my sense of empathy for others facing unforeseen challenge. I’ve also learned that my tendencies to doubt myself, complain about my hardships, be inflexible and narrow-minded, do not add value nor provide solutions, relief or comfort to me or anyone around me.
Having to experience a failed Plan A, move on to Plan B, while juggling all the adversity that entails, is an infinitely more valuable chapter in my life than having had everything go smoothly from the start. Why?
CHALLENGING WORKOUTS BUILD STRENGTH
Difficulties are like climbing mountains. The higher the altitude gets, the more the climber has to develop and expand in survival capacity. Just walking down a straight, flat road doesn’t test or build one’s abilities in comparison to climbing a mountain. But after climbing a mountain, a walk down the road feels like a vacation.
What I’ve learned is that Plan B is about my behavior as a human being. How do I become the most capable, compassionate, wise, person? How do I fulfill my greatest potential? Setting goals that seem impossible to achieve, getting my plans crushed and having to devise a new way through—being forced to find innovative ways to get through a challenge is what dreams are made of. Responding to each surprising obstacle with the determination to win victory no matter what is crucial to my becoming the best I can be.
Interestingly, the developments I make through my struggles in one aspect of my life interconnect and apply toward other aspects of my life. Through my 6-month journey, I’ve forged discipline to write, compose and network, bringing me a sudden burst of freelance work, creative projects, and personal connections. These are in sync with what I envisioned as my lifelong dream path as a writer and composer for peace.
Plan B is about my behavior as a human being. It’s about how I respond to the difficulties in front of me. It’s about how I create a better me out of the situation. Plan B, from this moment forward, is about Brilliant Transformation.
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