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 be in place as caregiver for my aging parent, then use my new situation to apply myself toward my lifelong dreams of working from home as a creator.
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. 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) when facing new challenges. I’m learning to check my expectations at the door, lower my judgment, 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. 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 problems.
I’ve found that being true to myself and going all out for my dreams means I may face resistance in the form of judgment from others whose values differ from my own, or who have an outdated version of me in their psyche.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.
DISCOVERING YOUR ABILITY TO CREATE PLAN B
Reflecting on myself through this period of troubles, I’ve 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 was to sell my home, and use the profits to cover 6-months to a year's expenses for my out-of-state move while building my online business as a blogger, podcast host and course creator. This plan and timeline were both utterly botched by an inexperienced realtor, an unforeseen hurricane, and unexpected family health emergencies.
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. In hindsight, I now know these delays should’ve been avoided by my realtor quickly cancelling that buyer’s contract early on, to immediately put my lovely home back on market. Instead, that buyer failed to win loan approval after three months’ delay, just in time for a hurricane of historic power (Irma) to strike near my home, causing a housing slow-down (but, fortunately no damage to my home).
After the hurricane passed, I stressed to my realtor my urgency to sell my home, as I had not anticipated moving out of state before my home sale. She had a melt-down during our phone conversation, and instead vindictively sabotaged my home sale. Though I attempted giving her time and the benefit of doubt, due to no showings in 6 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 in February, I finally sold my home after an 8-month delay. (Whew!)
FINDING THE VALUE WITHIN YOUR STRUGGLES
This is only a partial view of the story, as I simultaneously dealt with additional unanticipated challenges as a new caregiver, a bizarre botching of my investment funds from my previous job's Human Resources department, and with other family issues that slowed down my focus on establishing my online business.
But, I 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 one credit card and my mortgage payments! Thanks to my diligent juggling with living off my credit cards while waiting for my home sale, I achieved my goal to keep my credit score unscathed (currently 836!). Having struggled for many years to transform my credit score from horrible to stellar, and keep it there, was a true personal victory.
Due to the delay, I managed to grow my IRA to more than I anticipated, and finally got my funds transferred to my account. I had a wonderful local group of capable men volunteer (in 20° snowy weather!) to move my belongings from an expensive pod to an affordable, more convenient storage unit!
YOUR TRUE VICTORY IS WITHIN YOUR PROBLEMS
I’m grateful for these wonderful benefits, but find my struggles exponentially more valuable. Through adversity, I began 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 also learned that my tendencies to doubt myself, complain about my hardships, or 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 complications that entails, is an infinitely more valuable chapter in my life than having had everything go smoothly from the start.
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.
The developments I make through struggles in one aspect of my life interconnect and apply toward other aspects of my life. Through my 8-month journey, I forged discipline to write, compose and network, bringing me a sudden burst of freelance work, creative projects, and personal connections. I'm also becoming a better writer, social media manager, and have expanded my content to podcasts and affiliate marketing. These are in sync with what I envision as my lifelong dream path to manifest my full potential as an artist for peace.
Plan B is about my behavior as a human being. It’s about how to respond to the difficulties in front of me. It’s about how I create a better me out of the situation. Creating value out of any situation is transformational for me and those around me.
Plan B, from this moment forward, is about brilliant transformation.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about my perspective on struggles as a means to make improvement. Please share your comments below.
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By Jenny Leigh Hodgins
I recently read a Buddhist reference to a mythical insect called the kalakula that inspired me to see problems in a completely different way. Legend has it that the kalakula grows larger while resisting strong winds. The wind increases its size until the insect becomes big enough to devour any living thing. Quite the image, right?
(I don’t intend to go heavily into Buddhist theory here, but feel free to ask me anything about my 32+ year SGI-USA* Buddhist practice in the comments. Explore SGI-USA and SGI for more info.)
The More Problems You Have--The Closer You Are To Fulfillment
This Buddhist bug story alerted me that I’ve held an unenlightened view of my struggles. I’ve been falsely looking at my problems as;
The latter has sent me into many a tailspin of negative self-talk.
But this Buddhist analogy explains that the more handicaps, persecutions, obstacles or challenges thrown my way, the closer I actually am to developing my true potential.
What Does A Bug Story Have To Do With Your Potential?
Ok, sorry, I didn’t exactly explain what the bug and the wind are all about. The insect represents me (or you), my (your) progress, potential, capability and strength. The wind symbolizes all the crap in life that happens (relationship troubles, grief, financial struggle, illness, etc.).
The more heavily the wind (problems in life) attacks the bug (you or me), the larger it (we) grows, until it’s able to devour any opponent! The wind triggers the bug’s strength and growth.
Obstacles do the same for you and me, IF we are able to use them as a catalyst for tapping our full potential. All the difficulties we face are the mark of our impending potential and the barometer of the progress we’ve made.
This simple analogy shows me the wonderful result of shifting my perspective. Life’s challenges are not insurmountable and are not indicative of my inadequacy or inability. They are also not a burden.
Problems Point To Opportunities For Your Potential
Challenges are the complete opposite. They reveal how much strength my life contains, and that I’m powerful enough to handle what’s happening next. Difficulties point to my opportunity to unleash my full potential.
Forging my full potential by facing my problems through this enlightened perspective brings the benefit of confidence, and the joy of victory. This shift of my viewpoint provides energy to reach my goals and feel a kind of happiness that’s independent of inevitable ups and downs.
Recognizing that problems can be the powerful catalyst for inspired growth ignites my determination. This awareness deepens my faith in my capacity for empowerment. Seeing myself as a worthy opponent to life’s obstacles leads me to encourage and lead others on the same path.
Your Pretend Rival Helps You Succeed
Mystically, this same point came up today while listening to a podcast I randomly selected. The podcast, Optimal Living Daily, hosted by Benjamin Hardy, featured Nir Eyal on the topic How To Achieve Your Goals By Creating An Enemy. The episode was about how creating a fake opponent actually helps people “summon the tenacity to succeed” and “work harder to attain goals.”
Easy paths don’t lead to accomplishing goals or dreams. Defeating a weak rival is no real victory. But, rebelling against our problems by seeing them as ‘the enemy’ can spur us to pull out the necessary qualities for victory. A fierce adversary (or difficult situation/person) is one that forces me to develop my full potential so I can win.
Resistance is critical to strengthen oneself. The more difficult the challenge, the greater the chance to forge strength for undeniable victory. Having this kind of fighting spirit is what it takes to overcome challenges and win success.
Problems Make You A Worthy Opponent
Doubting myself or others means I’m disbelieving in the greater potential that resides in every life. I now recognize that seeing my obstacles as indicative of my flaws, propensity toward failure, or as punishment for past negative karma (effects received through having made negative causes) is self-slander. That is the worst negative cause because it essentially denies the true potential of my life, other’s lives, and the sanctity of life itself.
How To Win Over Your Negativity
Treasuring life is the way to replace negative causes. Making good causes is the way to create a pattern for good effects in the future. Learning to treasure my life, which includes actually embracing my every flaw, shortcoming, arduous circumstance, or mistake, is an enlightened perspective. Viewing difficulties this way honors my life and others.
I had been mulling on past failures and setbacks. But the Buddhist wind versus bug story changed my viewpoint. It showed me that life’s snags are not there to reveal my mediocrity. My personal battle, and yours, is rather more about how we can fulfill our potential by using everything to create value.
When I use my struggles as a springboard toward deepening my commitment to develop myself, I become stronger than my opponent (hardship). This creates momentum for confident decision-making, and manifests itself in one small victory after another.
Obstacles Are The Path Itself
I’ve learned that troubles are not an indication of my tendency to fall short. Nor are they there to highlight my distance from success. Instead, obstacles, failures, setbacks, and/or handicaps are the path itself to success, happiness, and enlightenment.
The most valuable way I can live is to show proof of how remaining undefeated by obstructions along life’s road leads to a more meaningful life, successful contribution to the world, and the joy of believing in human potential.
I’d love to hear from you. It means a lot to me that my content is helpful and empowers you. Please take a moment to join the conversation below to let me know if this blog is helpful or if you have questions or suggestions!
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**Although I'm a proud member of SGI-USA, I'm not an official spokesperson for SGI-USA. Though I base my actions on my personal Buddhist practice as an SGI-USA member, my online business and content associated with YourCreativeChord is not in any way affiliated with SGI-USA.
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In my INSPIRATION blogs, you’ll find ways to overcome obstacles, reach goals, and experience more joy in the moment with spiritual awareness and inner transformation.