When things don’t work out as you want, how do you want to respond?

When things don’t work out as you want, how do you want to respond?

It was my birthday last week. 60 – how did that happen?!?

It wasn’t the birthday that I’d planned.

Plan A was to have a big party – and was abandoned some months ago.

Plan B was dinner somewhere in London with five close friends. Tier Three put paid to that arrangement.

Plan C involved a trip to Brighton and dinner with some other lovely friends plus a few days by the seaside. This scenario was ripped up when lockdown was announced.

In that moment, I wept – believing that I’d end up spending my special day alone, lonely and miserable.

It would have been easy to have a ‘pity party’

Ten years ago I’d had the big party to celebrate my 50th – but didn’t enjoy it. I was struggling with the Impostor Syndrome and on the verge of burnout.

I’ve made a lot of changes since then. And, had made a promise that my 60th would be very different.

However, Life seemed to have other plans for me.

It would have been very easy to slip into feeling sorry for myself and to end up with a ‘pity party’ on my birthday.

I did for a little while – especially when I realised that I wasn’t going to receive a single card to help mark my special day. All my post is currently being re-directed to my address in Somerset!

When we engage with Life as it is, Life becomes generous

However, one thing I now know is that – although we can’t control what happens in our outer world, what we can control is our inner response to what Life gives us.

Viktor Frankl wrote about this in his seminal work ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’: Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

So, on the morning of my birthday, I decided to make the most of whatever the day bought and enjoy my special day. When we shift our attitude and choose to embrace things just as they are and engage with Life as it is, my experience is that Life becomes generous with its gifts.

Heart warming and connecting moments

One choice I made was to be brazen about letting people know it was my birthday.

Which resulted in six young children providing a heart-warming rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ on Hampstead Heath. Free coffee and a connecting conversation with the staff at Caravane near Kings Cross while out for an adventure on electric bikes with a friend. A wonderful interaction with Vic and Andrea, as I cycled around central London revisiting old haunts – thank you for thinking I was only 47! Socially distanced dancing in the street with a neighbour who has a birthday on the same day.

Along with numerous lovely messages via different digital platforms from friends and family. Some flowers, chocolates and presents that managed to make it to my door, despite the redirection. And, a Russian picnic organised by a neighbour.

So, despite current constraints, I managed to have one of the best birthdays ever – simply by shifting my attitude and embracing Life as it was and its resulting gifts.

And, I’m now ready and looking forward to creating my seventh decade and embracing the gifts on offer when we respond rather than react to what Life brings.

How about you? How do you want to respond when Life doesn’t go the way you want? What do you want to create?

And, if you’d like to get better at responding and working with what Life brings so you can achieve your professional and personal ambitions, please get in touch by sending an email to caroline@attitudecoach.co.uk and we can set up a time to speak.