Carefully plan, and you’ll outsmart the unexpected, right? But life doesn’t work that way. Don’t underestimate life’s ability to surprise you; the unexpected happens every day.
You can’t possibly know what unknowns tomorrow will bring. Increasing your ability to cope demands that you make decisions quickly and with limited information.
Here are five things you need to do each day to outsmart the unexpected.
1. Practice Purposeful Distraction
Physical and mental exercise alter your body’s responses to heightened stress. Spend 5 to 10 minutes a day practicing things like deep breathing, acupressure and “purposeful” distraction techniques like doodling or thinking of words that start with the letter “a”. Practiced daily these become habits that you intuitively call upon in a crisis to calm you enough to decide, act, focus and survive.
2. Go Toward Problems
Think counterintuitively – don’t retreat; go directly toward solving problems. Break things down – solve smaller problems within the larger ones first. Savor the small wins and use them to formulate your plan B.
3. Add Humor to the Mix
Give yourself the fuel and tenacity you need to get back in the zone of optimal performance – find humor in the situation. Levity lessens the tension and anxiety so you can reframe the situation and win the contest of determination over fear.
4. Don’t Be a Risk Denier
Don’t be blindly in denial about the risk of failure – it guarantees you’ll take unnecessary risks and make failure a certainty. Create solutions that you can test against what is real versus what you feel is real at the moment. Even if these experiments aren’t successful, you’ll learn what you need to keep moving forward.
5. Get Out of the Tunnel
Get out of the tunnel where you’re susceptible to being blindsided by biases that won’t serve you in an unexpected situation. Find, outside your sphere of interest, people who are trusted advisors, mentors, and resources willing to share their knowledge and expertise with you. Reaching outside your inner circle increases the resources you have to draw upon outside of your own knowledge base when unfamiliar situations arise.
Avoid the all-consuming anxiety that comes from the unexpected and see opportunity in the world of the unforeseen by being ready for the unexpected before it comes.