Recently I was at the chiropractor and since it was Monday, he asked what he asks everyone on Monday. “How was your weekend, did you do anything fun?” I responded that sure it was good, though I work weekends, so I have off other days. He said: “oh that stinks” and I replied: “it only stinks if you think it does.”
Well that took him aback and got him thinking. It hadn’t occurred to him that having some other days of the week off could be just as satisfying, in my opinion it’s more convenient.
What of this idea though, it only stinks if you think it does? Obviously, there are some things you could make good argument that stink: sliding your car into a ditch, missing a gathering of loved ones, etc. Yes, attitude matters, yet I’m not going to tell you not to experience the feelings related to any particular situation.
However, when it comes to a longer-term situation, such as my work schedule, buying into and putting energy into it stinking is not very helpful. What if I decided I needed my weekends off because that’s what everyone else has and that’s the ‘right’ way to do it? I would feel resentment that I was required to come to church on Sundays and spend half my day engaged in church business. (which would make being a minister a poor career choice) This would cause all sorts of unhappiness for myself and those around me. All because I decided the situation stinks.
Thankfully I enjoy my work and I like having a couple weekdays off instead of the weekend. But this perspective is not new.
When I was a kid, there was a box of wood scraps in the garage that I could use for whatever projects I had in mind. In general, I had to work with what was available, wishing I had something else was not going to get me anywhere.
When I was in my 20’s I had an early shift, 5:30am, 4 mornings a week, which meant I got off work around 1pm. There could be plenty of arguments about how this was not a good schedule, but I choose to see it as a good thing. 1- My commute to and from work were during the times when the trains were not crowded. 2- I got to ease into the day by having quiet time in on the ride to work and as we got the shop set up. 3- I got done early enough that I could have meetings/appointments after work and not have to take time off (which is especially great for someone working hourly). 4- when I had rehearsal in the evening, I had plenty of time to take a solid nap beforehand.
Most importantly, I made this choice, and I am responsible for it. I know not everyone feels like they have autonomy or decent alternate choices to make. But often the biggest problem is between our ears. Like kid me with a box of pieces, we have to work with what we have.
Maybe you remember that ‘80’s TV show MacGyver. In it Mac would find himself in a tricky situation and would engineer himself and his sidekicks out of it with whatever random supplies were on hand such as gum wrappers, fire extinguishers, or the cord from a telephone. He was the master of working with what was available and having a positive attitude.
But, you might say, my life has not been scripted by a team of Hollywood writers and there’s not a spare canister of CO2 in the corner to use as a propellant. That’s true enough, but the concept is the same.
The MacGyver Change Plan:
1. Where I am is not where I want to be.
2. Believe there is a solution.
3. Take stock of what is available and the exit options.
4. Formulate a plan and activate it.
Now our friend MacGyver didn’t usually need help to formulate a plan, but he often utilized the people with him in the execution of it. We too may need help to create and activate a plan. Ask a trusted friend, they may have a perspective or know of a resource.
I have seen folks get stuck by the piece they don’t have. If you have a long-term plan, you may not need to have all the pieces yet. If you need it now you better either trust that it’s going to show up or change the plan.
What doesn’t work and won’t work is having an ‘oh this stinks so I’m stuck’ attitude.
There are always going to be things that show up that are less than desirable. It’s up to you to decide if it stinks or you’re going to work with it.
Follow the MacGyver plan.