Are you prepared for the unexpected?
A few days before Christmas I had a missed call from our letting agent. She left a foreboding voicemail message in which she asked me to ‘call back as soon as possible’. Oh wow, the worst kind of message. No information, something urgent – maybe they’re putting up our rent in our renewal.
‘Oh hello. Merry Christmas…Your landlord is selling the house’.
Damn it. Curve ball (a googly for the cricket fans).
Our safe snow globe existence had just been shaken. The foundations that we had taken for granted were rattled. And what we felt was secure and settled way very much up in the air. Home for the past 4 years would now only be home for another month. What a vulnerable feeling. And with no significant rent rises during that time, other properties in the same area have risen way beyond our means.
Of course this was potentially on the cards at some point. But it came out of the blue and made me realise that I wasn’t really prepared for it.
We’ve been really fortunate to have found a place with an ideal arrangement thanks to some amazing friends. We’re in the process of moving now, but even with the contingency plan in place it’s a real shake up at the start of this new year. The hassle of moving, all the admin and arrangements required. Then settling into a new place, in a new community, with all the change that entails. I can’t be bothered.
Adaptive to Change
I keep reassuring myself of something: we’re human beings. If there’s one thing I know to be true about human beings it’s that we’re experts at adapting to change. I’m holding onto that as I continue to feel that nervous twitch in my gut when I wake up each morning. I am a creature of habit and routine; when that is put in jeopardy it kind of throws me six ways to Sunday.
I’ve been wondering…can we truly prepare ourselves for ‘the unexpected’?
Are there ways to future-proof ourselves? Not in order to avoid change. I mean, it’s going to happen. But so that we can respond to it in helpful and healthy ways without feeling completely lost and overwhelmed.
I work with people every day who are coming to terms with the unexpected. It doesn’t get any more life-changing than losing a loved one. For many of us, this will be an inevitable albeit still unexpected part of life that is nearly impossible to prepare for.
Preparing for the unexpected is something we can think about. It’s not about switching off to protect ourselves from pain. Pain is natural. It hurts when the things and people we treasure most are lost. Instead it’s about shoring up certain parts of our foundations.
Nothing Lasts Forever
Life is entropic. In Greek ‘en’ means ‘within’ and ‘trop’ means ‘change’. Entropy can be defined as change within a closed system. This is one certainty we can be sure of in life: everything changes and entropy predicts this move towards disorder in everything (or away from what might be considered order/normal).
Nothing lasts forever. What is true now will evolve, ebb, flow and warp. A closed system in this regard applies to everything. A living situation, a family, health, friendships, jobs, political reality etc. Being aware of life’s entropy prepares us for the inevitable change.
Wow, kind of a depressing thought! Yeah it could be. But it is also pretty inspiring. It’s true, so there’s little point in pretending it’s not. The question is, how will respond to that truth?
Make and Save Memories
Invest yourself in the present. Be all you can right now to the people you’re with, intentionally enjoying the moment. And enjoy the memories you make. Drop the rose-tinted glasses when thinking about the past. Instead, find something to appreciate in the world around you (it’s not always easy) and remind yourself that this moment is the past of the future.
Things change and time is finite. So it’s pretty important to be mindful of your priorities and core values. This means that in any given situation you have a strong foundation for your own response to it.
Create Stuff and Help Others
We might channel our response to change and unexpected circumstances in destructive or creative ways. The best thing we can do is find means to get creative and connect with others.
Once news has sunk in, we might be able to offer hope, encouragement and reasurrance to others going through similar things. That’s why I love having a blog so much – I can let people know that no matter what you’re going through, you’re not alone.
Don’t Wait for the Wake Up Call
Many people live life awaiting some cataclysmic wake up call. They need some major scare or shock to be the catalyst for some change they know they want or need to make. It might be a medical problem, a relationship breakdown, or worse. The truth is we don’t have to wait in order to institute better habits and mindsets. We can take responsibility for many forms of positive change.
Yes unexpected things happen to us, but we can also make great things happen to us as well. There is a flip side of entropy in the human sense; we have a huge degree of control over the trajectory of certain aspects of our lives by the choices we make.
Develop Solid Contingencies
Dealing with change is helped when we have contingencies in place. An obvious example is an emergency savings fund that can soften the blow if you lose your job or have some left-field expense to deal with.
We can build a variety of contingency funds in the different accounts of our lives: health, relationships, family, business, home etc. It usually requires an investment of time, attention, and priority. Contingencies don’t often build themselves.
We can prepare when we listen and are aware of stories. We can learn from experiences (our own and other peoples’). A small example might be, if someone you know loses their long-standing job our of the blue. While you might be grateful that you still have one, you can also use that situation to ask ‘what would I do if I were in that position?’
That provides a clue to the contingency or habit change you might need to get in place. You might also ask, ‘what would I WANT/NEED if I were in that position?’ The answer to this question might provide an action that you can take to help that other person out in some way. Giving is always a pretty reliable contingency investment. What goes around often finds a way of coming around.
Life is about change and learning. Entropy is an inevitable truth. How prepared are we for it?
Over to You
Can you remember a time when something unexpected happened or changed in your life? Is there anything you wish you had done to prepare? Please leave your answer in the comments below.