How to navigate a change of plan?

I was really excited and looking forward to my upcoming trip to Bangalore and Mumbai. The plan began to take shape when I got an invitation to attend a birthday party. Around this special milestone event, lots of other plans got created. My calendar was packed with meetings, lunches, coffees, and dinners. I was all set for what promised to be an exciting few days.

Air tickets booked, check-in done, bags packed, and ready to leave except for one small change in the plan. I started sneezing and along with my dripping nose, a slight fever crept silently into the picture. “It’s just a common cold, or maybe a viral…” I told myself. Popped a Crocin and did a bit of inhalation and felt much better. But like that slight drip at the back of my throat, an itchy feeling that something may not be well started forming in the back of my head. I found out that I had to let the airline know 8 hours ahead of travel in case I wanted to reschedule my trip (just in case – I told myself).

I had fixed a video consult with my doctor for 8.15 pm on the night before my morning flight. Less than 30 seconds into my call as I explained my “mild symptoms” the doc told me to disconnect the phone, do a home Covid test and call her back. A few minutes later, I was staring at a bright and clear double line, that told me very clearly that I had tested positive.

It was a very vivid and real reminder to me about being responsible and doing the right thing. If I had not taken the test as advised by my doctor, and if I had not fixed the appointment with the doc as advised by my wife, by now I would have been a super spreader of Covid. Given the number of friends and colleagues and clients I had fixed to meet and the birthday party where many people I care about would have been present, I could have set in place a chain of events that I would not want to be responsible for. I often say life should not be lived with any “what if?” moments. What if I had been the cause of infecting someone and something bad had happened? In this particular case, I was saved in the nick of time from possibly walking down that road.

I was really upset for a while. My well-laid plans had been turned on their head. I spent an hour cancelling tickets, taxis, and hotel arrangements and messaging people to inform them that I would not be able to meet them. I then spent the next 7 days in quarantine. Getting on with life (and not thinking about all the missed opportunities and meetings) and living in the present moment were not easy.

Two lessons I am reminded of this week as I emerge from my third bout in the ring with the virus. Lesson #1: I must be responsible when it comes to others and not just focus on what I want or how I am feeling, because in the bigger context, how I am and what I feel is linked to how I treat and care for others.

Lesson #2: I must be responsible to make the most of each day that I have. It is a gift to be healthy and alive and every hour that I have is an hour I can spend or invest (spend moaning and groaning about how unfair things are or invest in being and doing what I am best at.)

Nothing is promised. Each day is precious. Three times I have been reminded of this simple truth by the virus. Three times I have raced back into the ring grateful to have recovered and three times I have forgotten the lessons learnt too soon. 

Maybe visit no 3 from the virus was once again a nudge from the universe. A reminder that every day is a gift and the natural skills and talents I have are gifts. Using them to their maximum impact and paying it forward is my privilege and my way of touching the world. Like a candle flame that can cut through the darkness, I must do my bit to shine and share my light, so that I and others may see.

Could I let it go and go with the flow? Situations evolve, circumstances change, and there are good days and not so good days. How I show up and embrace each one of them is about being willing and open to dance with the change. Could I navigate change or could I not? I could not go to Bangalore and Mumbai. All my well-planned meetings got cancelled. I could be angry. I could be grumpy. I could be irritated. I was locked up in a room. Or instead…. I could call several people to whom I have not spoken in ages. I could receive good wishes and gifts sent by friends and colleagues that brought a smile to my face. I could catch up on some much-needed rest. I could finalise a bunch of proposals. I could spend Bengali New Year with my wife and enjoy a lovely lunch with her. I could cuddle with Cookie.

Letting go of the ‘could-nots’ and leaning into the ‘coulds’, is about being flexible and flowing with changes as they emerge. Changing plans is about letting go of what could have been and enjoying what is. Could you give it a try?

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Nikhil Dey
Nikhil Dey is Executive Director, Adfactors PR.

A trusted coaching and communications professional, Nikhil Dey is a certified life and leadership coach (International Coach Federation - ICF). Nurturing talent and helping clients achieve their goals is what makes him happy. He loves learning from students of communication, teaching courses and guest lecturing at various educational institutions. When he is not working you will find him on the tennis court or out for long walks with his family and four legged friends.

Previously he has held senior leadership positions at Weber Shandwick and Genesis BCW.

He can be reached on twitter @deydreaming

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