Today we will consider this idea of growth from a slightly different angle. More specifically, we’ll discuss how to make the best out of an unexpected situation. We’ll talk about the new opportunities that accompany an unplanned life change, and also discuss the strengths that we gain from such experiences.
Over the holidays I spoke with my friend, T, who just learned she must relocate for work in March. While this news came as a surprise, she nevertheless maintains a positive outlook on the entire situation. In fact, it was her remarkable attitude that inspired this post.
While she’s nervous about the big move, she’s also excited about starting fresh in an entirely new location. (She’s moving from a suburb in Connecticut to NYC). She finds the prospect of a clean slate highly refreshing. And she believes it’s the perfect opportunity to try new things, meet new people, and step outside of her comfort zone. (See? Remarkable.)
As a creature of habit who doesn’t do well with change, I prodded T a bit on how she manages such a positive perspective. How does she feel about moving to the city? Does she know any of the NYC branch employees? Does she have family or friends in the area?
Following our conversation, I was so impressed with T’s ability to find the silver lining in each situation, that I had to share what I learned with you.
Because like it or not, we all face unexpected change in our lives, and it’s up to us how we handle these developments. By choosing to respond with confidence and excitement, we open up the opportunity for positive growth. And we make the best out of an unexpected situation.
So without further ado, this is what I gleaned from my conversation with T.
How to make the best out of an unexpected situation
Learn as much as you can
When I first heard that T was moving from a small suburb in Connecticut to NYC, I wondered how she would adjust to the culture shock; small town to big city is no small feat. And she did admit to feeling worried about the crowds, the noise, and the endless concrete. At least at first, anyway.
“But,” she said, “once I started doing research, I found several reasons that you might consider moving to the city.” Noting her easy access to the MET, Broadway, and Central Park, not to mention reliable public transportation, she spouted off a long list of benefits this major move brings. And by taking time to learn about these positive attributes, T easily shifted her perspective from dread to hope.
So when you face an unexpected change, don’t let the unknown scare you. Do some research, and look for the positive. It might not be immediately evident. But I’m willing to bet if you look hard enough, you’ll find a silver lining.
Case in point: I was planning to travel to Minnesota last week to celebrate Christmas with my family. My sisters and their husbands were all home, and it was going to be a wonderful time. Then on December 22nd I got sick, and I had to cancel my flight. This was the first time in my life that I hadn’t been home for Christmas, and I was feeling pretty down. Needless to say, this was certainly an unexpected event.
Now, I’m not going to lie and say, “I found good in the entire situation; I’m glad I didn’t fly to MN!” Because, quite frankly, that’s B.S. But with that being said, I did manage to find a positive; I got more consecutive nights of 8+ hours of sleep in a row than I have in over five years. No joke. My body desperately needed rest, and I was finally able to listen. See? Silver lining.
Stay Optimistic and Create and Plan
When she spoke about starting over at a new office, T again saw everything as an opportunity rather than a source of anxiety. She’s not worried about making a good first impression or knowing every protocol. Instead, she’s looking forward to learning new skills and meeting her colleagues. She’s excited to make friends and explore her environment. And she’s especially stoked to set up her new office and get settled in.
What’s more, she’s made a plan of attack to help her meet these new challenges head-on. As she explains, making a plan was another secret to calming her nerves.
Even if you don’t know the exact details for each situation, by doing your research (step one) and brainstorming how to tackle potential obstacles (step two), you’re preparing yourself as much as possible. By doing so, you’re quieting fears of the unknown. And this, in turn, allows room for optimism and excitement.
Think about the big picture and put things into perspective
Another way that T is able to make the best out of an unexpected situation is to focus on the big picture. She doesn’t get caught up in the minutia of finding great moving companies, learning the subway system, or worrying whether she’ll get along with her new boss. She knows there are plenty of resources out there to help her figure that out. Instead, she sees the entire experience as an opportunity for growth.
It is an advancement in her career. It’s also chance to step out of her comfort zone and grow as an individual. She gets to experience an entirely new way of living from what she currently knows, and she’s is thrilled to discover the benefits of city life. In other words, she sees this “unexpected situation” not as a burdensome challenge, but as the next step in her life.
So the next time you run into an unexpected hurdle, try looking past the anxiety-inducing details. Instead, consider the big picture filled with possibility and hope. Put the silver lining from steps one and two into perspective, and focus on the good.
Reach out and be true to you
Whenever we face new people and situations, it’s tempting to withdraw into ourselves. It’s easy to stick with what’s familiar and simply wish for our “old life” and “old friends.” Because let’s be honest, meeting new friends and exploring our surroundings is exhausting!
Nevertheless, it’s critical to make a little more effort and reach out to your new neighbors and colleagues. And when you do, make sure that you remain “true to you.” Let your humor, values, and beliefs shine through.
As T explained, “this is a chance for me to rediscover myself. And what’s more, I can let the new people in my life know this true self, too.”
She’s absolutely right, of course. We can make the best out of an unexpected situation by being true to ourselves and sharing that truth with others. It’s no secret that big life changes offer a lot of room for growth. And it’s important that we seize that opportunity to discover who we are.
So next time you face a challenge, reflect on these strategies to make the best out of an unexpected situation. Then, download this workbook to help you create a plan of attack to find that silver lining. What are you waiting for? It’s FREE!
How do you make the best out of an unexpected situation? Have you faced any surprise challenges recently? Have you ever had to relocate for work? How did you handle this obstacle? Let me know below!