In the midst of a pandemic, civil unrest and political upheaval, it was another long discussion full of angst about the future with my young client. Plan A had been a prestigious Capitol Hill internship followed by a short course in London. Covid 19 quickly redirected those plans and Plan B emerged. Continued national economic concerns prevailed and Plan B was soon canceled, too. Discouraged by the unknown future, he wondered about Plan C and asked for my input.
In times of uncertainty, and actually all of life is uncertain, we can only control what we can control, which usually is very little. Sometimes, we have to wait out the circumstances, but waiting doesn’t mean doing nothing. In the waiting, we prepare for the next opportunity. As I student and an athlete, I made these recommendations:
- Attend to your spiritual well-being. To the extent that we take care of our spirit, our outlook will be more positive than negative and we will be fueled to rise above the circumstances. Dedicate time to prayer, meditation, study and nurturing the soul.
- Focus on your physical well-being. Take care of your body. Exercise, eat well and get enough sleep. When opportunity comes, in any form, you want to be physically prepared to pursue it.
- Pursue learning. Take a course, try a new hobby, read good books. Learn something everyday that will prepare you for the future. For him, he needed furniture for his apartment. Since his summer job fell through and he lacked cash, he decided to make his own. Now he has what he needs, inexpensively, and learned a new skill in the process. The satisfaction of working with his hands and creating something also supported his emotional well-being.
- Protect your emotional health. Stress, depression and anxiety can always be lurking, but even more so in these difficult and challenging days of uncertainty. Turn off the negative news, limit social media, connect with positive people in your life and see a counselor if needed. Emotional health is critical to moving forward and you want to be in a positive mindset to see and seize future opportunity.
In life, there is very little we can control. Focusing on what we can control and surrendering what we cannot helps us gain perspective and meet the challenges life hands us every day. At the end of the conversation, the young man had developed Plan C and it included the actions above. I have every confidence that he will be well-prepared to navigate the challenges and find a path forward for himself.
Control only what you can control and surrender the rest.