“Blessed are the flexible, for they will not be bent out of shape.”
I chuckled at this proverb that felt fitting for my role as a busy mom of tiny humans in this season of life: Always bending, responding, and flexing to save the day!
For someone who likes to get things done (and might even be a little more “type-A” than I care to admit), exercising flexibility often feels like I’m sacrificing my productivity. Sure, being open to whatever happens sounds great on paper, until that paper still holds the list of tasks undone because I opted to live “in the moment” instead of hustling to finish something.
Maybe you can relate…
Flexibility is much easier than it sounds and harder than you think.
It requires a release of expectations, a willingness to be in the moment, and an acknowledgement that you cannot (and should not) control everything.
As the last few weeks of summer melt into fall and the hustle continues, let’s take this month to consider how to approach living with more flexibility, starting with how we relate to what happens…and what doesn’t.
Interruptions Are Invitations
As a parent, entrepreneur, and business owner, I feel like I’m constantly juggling #AllTheThings and must keep all the balls in the air. So when I choose to stop and be present, the balls suddenly drop, and then I have to pick them up and start tossing all over again.
But what if, instead of dropping, the balls simply FROZE in mid-air? So caught in the moment, without leaving anything more to do?
Imagine what would happen if we chose to view the many daily interruptions as invitations to reconnect with the present, allowing us to hit “PAUSE” to reconnect, rather than disconnect.
That is how I’m learning to embrace more flexibility, while still valuing productivity.
The Four Tendencies
In her newest book, The Four Tendencies, Positive Psychologist and Happiness Researcher, Gretchen Rubin helps you answer one simple question: How do I respond to expectations? Rubin studied how people from all walks of life respond to both outer expectations from other people, our job, and external sources as well as inner expectations like commitments we make to ourselves. From her research, she discovered that typically an individual fits into one of four categories of response, creating her groundbreaking Four Tendencies: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel.
Through her research and practice, Rubin has found that knowing our Tendency can help set us up for success – at least in how we respond to expectations if they aren’t met. They show us why we act, and why we don’t act. As a result, we can make better decisions, meet deadlines, meet our promises to ourselves, suffer less stress, and engage more deeply with others. Curious? Join us in reading this month’s book pick and take the quiz to find out your tendency.
Plan the Event, Not the Outcome
When I was a freshman at UCLA serving on our residence hall leadership board, one of my advisors shared something invaluable: “You can plan the event, but you can never plan the outcome.” Her wise words still echo in my head whenever I catch myself trying to control situations or cling too tightly to my expectations for how something (or someone!) should be.
As long as you’re attached the outcome, you remain a victim to circumstance. You give your power away to the unknown of the future, instead of reveling in what can be experienced in the present and the wisdom and lessons from the past.
What would it look like to plan the event, not the outcome?
- How often do you base your success on a certain outcome instead of the effort you put forth? Consider how this makes you feel about your work.
- What environments or relationships do you find yourself trying to control through your expectations? Take a moment to realign with your values and release your desire to have things happen in a certain way.
- Instead of being a victim of circumstance, how do you want to choose to live? Name one thing you’re willing to change now.
Be the Revolution,