Recently, I had life throw a challenging curve ball my way. Six months into my first pregnancy, while I was on vacation in Miami, my body went into labor and I gave birth to a baby boy. It was a tremendous shock and one of the most frightening experiences I've ever had. Thankfully, we were in the right place at the right time, surrounded by people who deal with preemies all the time. Now six weeks later, our little one is growing and developing with the help of intensive care and though we are still living "on location" near the hospital, we are regaining some sense of normalcy.
How do you cope when life throws you a curve ball?
It's not always easy to "hit one out of the park". Sometimes life happens and you need strategies to keep a sense of balance when things go awry. You need to refocus your priorities, take things day by day until the situation stabilizes and set goals to get back on track.
Here is what I've learned in dealing with life's curve balls:
Cali advises honesty as the best policy when telling others about your situation, especially your boss and coworkers. I couldn't agree more. Your boss needs to fully understand the gravity of your situation if he/she is going to be able to best support you. Don't sugarcoat or downplay the situation if you're really in a crisis. It will only mismanage expectations and you could end up disappointing others.
Next, fully explore your options and get creative when it comes to going back to work. I have been slowly weaving in work activities as I get a better sense for how much time and energy I will have given the situation. It can be hard to downshift when you've been in high gear at work but recognize you might not have as much gas in the tank if you're dealing with a crisis. Be gentle with yourself and relax - the work will still be there.
Finally, acknowledge shifting priorities but don't make rash decisions based on them. If you experience a crisis, chances are it will give you new perspective on life and what matters most. For me, this experience has shed renewed focus on doing work that I truly enjoy and working smarter. Can I change everything about my work/life overnight to match these new priorities? Maybe not but I am finding that a shift overtime is possible.
I share my story (and what I've learned so far) so you can have faith that your crisis moment can be a source of strength in your work and life. It has been for me and continues to be. It's not what I would have asked for but I am learning from it. Remember, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
Have you experienced a curve ball of your own? Would love to hear how you made your way through it – whether they were strategies that worked for you or for those you know.