When a Virus Derails Your Plans

This will be a quick add-on for the recent post on framing the coronavirus.

Obviously this situation has derailed many people’s plans, some more than others.

So how do you frame a situation like this where reality seriously derails your plans?

First off, reality can do that, as it’s obviously demonstrating right now. This is true whether you use an objective or subjective framing. The simulation doesn’t have to obey your intentions. It has a mind of its own.

This is why I like to view intentions and goals as offers to reality. Reality gets to respond in kind. It can accept my offers, reject my offers, or counter my offers. (We explored this framing in depth in the Submersion course.)

One of my goals (i.e. offers) for this year involved taking my character in the direction of some social expansion locally, as I’ve blogged about earlier. Two direct actions I took included joining a local meetup group and a new local fitness studio that does group classes, both of which happened in February.

So I was able to lean in with action, and it was going nicely for a few weeks. Then this virus situation exploded and of course took my plans with it. Social distancing is pretty much the opposite of what I’d intended for the months ahead.

So what gives? Do I treat this as a smackdown from reality?

Not at all. It’s a response from reality. And if I don’t understand it, I can ask, which in this case I did. I often dialog aloud with reality, and I speak aloud what I think its response is. Or sometimes I do this in the form of journaling.

When I asked why the change of plans, the answer that came through was pretty straightforward. I got a taste of my intention for a few weeks, enough to validate that it is indeed a direction I want to keep pursuing. The way I was pursuing this social expansion was working nicely too.

However, reality’s response is that it’s not time yet for the full intention to manifest just yet. It’s time for me to attend to other aspects of life for the next several weeks or possibly months. Reality’s directive is to also attend to a bunch of other tasks that aren’t social in nature.

The details don’t really matter in this case, but the direction was to focus on some other items first and clear those out. These are other projects that are pretty well-defined, some business and some personal, so I could finish them and move them off my plate fully. That would lighten up my plate and allow more room for social expansion activities when the time is right. Think of it like a spring cleaning of my other projects.

I can see and accept the wisdom of this. While the social expansion that I was engaging in seemed to be going well, I still have a lot on my plate, so I had to be pretty minimalist about the new direction to keep my life in balance. It would be nice to have some extra capacity, and that can happen if I clear out several more completable projects first and then revisit the social expansion later this year.

So while initially I was a bit disappointed that my plans seemed to be derailed, I can see that there may be intelligent reasons for it. So I’m good with accepting reality’s counter-offer in this case, which includes becoming a social minimalist for the time being.

Now clearly there’s a lot more to framing this situation that goes way beyond my little social expansion goal, but I just wanted to share this quick update to demonstrate the idea of receiving reality’s response and dialoging a bit to understand it better.

And if I didn’t like reality’s counteroffer in this case, I could have made another counteroffer of my own, and then reality could have given me its response to that. So there can be some back and forth negotiation if you’d like. What’s most important is to preserve trust in your relationship with reality, regardless of how it responds.

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Read When a Virus Derails Your Plans by Steve Pavlina