Author: Emma Gwynne – NLP Coach & Professional Dancer; for more info on Emma click here…
Recently life threw a huge spanner in the works for me. Just to give you a bit of background, on top of doing this NLP stuff, I am also a professional dancer. For the best part of the past year – alongside other projects – I’ve been working towards a contract performing out in China over the summer. It’s a contract I delightedly took on last year, is my largest earner, and pretty much my dream job. I got to travel China doing what I love with my closest friends, and had been offered the same opportunity again this year.
Through unforeseen circumstances out-with my control, the contract was cancelled 4 weeks before I was due to leave; all the hours of work, my full wage for the summer, my dream job, all gone, just like that. Not only did this mean going back to the drawing board with bills to pay and no form of income, but it also meant – because of the other opportunities I was getting while out in Asia, and the time I would have had to work on them – that I had to completely scrap my business plan for the rest of the year.
Understandably, my initial reaction was panic: what the hell was I going to do now? I was devastated and couldn’t believe this had actually happened; something I had been looking forward to, and working towards all year.
I spent a few days moping around as you can imagine; I was utterly bewildered as to what I should do next, and, although it wasn’t anything I could have controlled, I felt like a failure. To make things worse it is my birthday soon and I am turning 28.
Now that may not seem old to a lot of people but in my industry it’s ancient, especially when girls a decade younger than me are coming in and booking the same jobs as me. The thought of starting from scratch at this stage was making me feel like I wanted to give up; to chuck it all in. I’m sure there are other jobs out there that are not so difficult, not so cut throat and full of rejection, but I know that not pursuing my passion and doing what I love will make me feel rubbish, so it was a catch 22 really.
I was at the point where I had no answers, so I did what is normally done when you are looking for answers: I went on Facebook!
Over the years – as I am sure many of you have too – I’ve seen loads of articles on positive thinking and they often have some good points; but in a situation like this, when I am still feeling immensely disappointed, it’s not easy or even natural to think positive.
That’s when I released that I didn’t need to think positive: I needed to think usefully!
It is entirely ok to feel upset when something doesn’t turn out the way you had planned or wanted, but there comes a point where the only option is to accept what has happened and move on. Years ago I would probably have given myself a hard time for feeling bad, but again what would I gain from this? Absolutely nothing!
Continuing to feel like a failure or dwell over what could have been will not bring my contract back, or get me other work; it will only prolong my anguish so what’s the point of thinking like that?
Instead I decided to think usefully; I decided to look at what my options are now.
OK, they may not be as appealing as what I had originally planned, but all I can do is make the most of the situation that I am in, and use the skills I have to get me where I want to be.
Ok, I may be 10 years older than some of my peers and competitors, but I also have 10 years more experience that I can use to my advantage.
I may have bills to pay and my largest form of income has now disappeared, but I will find work; the type of work I want without settling. I may need to be slightly more creative in how I go about it, but if I want it enough I will find a way to make it work.
You don’t always get to choose what happens in your life, things constantly change and I’m sure at some point, in most peoples’ lives, they will experience disappointment or set backs, in either their personal or professional life, but you do get to choose how you deal with it.
So what do you do when life throws a spanner in the works?
1. Let yourself be annoyed, pissed off, disappointed, angry, sad etc. It’s normal to feel upset when things don’t go to plan.
2. Think usefully: are the thoughts you are having about the situation giving you anything? If the answer to this is yes then that’s fine, even if they are negative thoughts – that can sometimes motivate people. If that works for you, then that’s good, but if all they are doing is making you feel bad then what is the point?
3. Turn your focus to a solution: what other options do you have, and how else can you get what you want or to where you want to be? Remember, you will only fail if you give up, or put a time-frame on your goals.
4. Remember the other things in your life that you have to be grateful for: When something happens we are often so focused on that one aspect of our lives we forget about everything else. Although you may not be in the situation you want to be in, I am sure there are still people out there in the world who would give anything to be in your shoes.
5. If all else fails speak to someone: friends, family, the lovely people here at the Scottish centre of NLP. There are plenty of people, including myself, who coach others purposely to achieve the goals they want, or in dealing with difficult situations. There are also loads of tools you can use to aid progression in achieving success in all aspects of life; but that’s a whole other article, for another time. So……
When life throws a spanner in the works you can let it knock you down or you can think usefully, using it to build something new. The choice is yours. I chose to build .
All the best,