When I was younger, New Year’s Eve was the most significant date in my calendar. It was the evening to outshine all those which had preceded it, ending one year and starting a new one on a social high.
At least, that was the intention. But the reality was always rather different. Taxis didn’t turn up when they were supposed to. Parties were never as exciting as hoped. Outfits never looked as good off the hanger. And don’t even get me started on New Year’s Eve 1999, the night which was supposed to show all other New Year’s Eves how it was done.
As a result, I also found New Year’s Eve to be the most stressful day of the year. So much effort and work and hope and aspiration was injected into a single event that inevitably, disappointment followed.
It’s not just New Year’s Eve though. It’s any event or activity which holds significance, which offers promise. Christmas Day. Weddings. Birthdays. Or, in the workplace. An important presentation. Or meeting. Or interview. Or event. When these activities don’t come off quite as hoped, we can be left with feelings of frustration, dissatisfaction, or even a sense of failure.
Especially as we have often put some much effort into planning. To thinking strategically about what we want to achieve and how we are going to do so, to putting in place the resources and logistics to make our plans happen, and to organising all the fine detail which will ensure that whatever we are doing will be successful. Whether it be an organisation-wide staff meeting – or a social gathering with friends.
Of course, planning is vital. That thinking, organising, testing is essential as it allows us to be prepared. To be in a good place to achieve whatever it is that we want to achieve. But just as important is our ability to be resilient. How we respond to things that happen outside of our control.
Through our own resilience, we can be flexible. We can think clearly. We can adapt our plans. We can manage any changes confidently. We can remain positive and upbeat. And we can feel in control even when outside occurrences – unplanned for and out of our control – happen.
And in being resilient, we also need to manage our expectations. Not telling ourselves ‘this must be a brilliant meeting’ or ‘this has to be a great event’ or even ‘New Year’s Eve should be the best night of the year.’ We need to temper our inner voice to a gentler, kinder, more encouraging one – ‘I am doing all that I can.’ That way, when setbacks happen – as they invariably do – they do not have the power to disappoint or engender that sense of failure.
And when we feel resilient, we can enjoy the moment. We can enjoy the opportunity to present on a subject which we feel passionate about, even if the projector stops working halfway through. Or cherish being with friends, even if our evening hasn’t quite turned out as envisaged.
In this way, we do not feel that sense of failure when things don’t go to plan. Because planning is only one part of what makes what we are doing successful – it’s our resilient response which can often really make the difference.