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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« 8 Tips for Bouncing Back | Failing Your Way to Success »

5 Success Tips for Life's Surprises

One of my weekend pleasures is going to the local farmer’s market on Saturday mornings with my friends. The tastes, scents, and colors are inspiring. The company and conversations are wonderful. On a recent visit, I took photos of vibrantly colored vegetables and shared them on Facebook. One of my friends commented on the string beans photo and said, “I would like to see these organized please…right now, it’s all over the place. It makes me very uneasy.” He was joking around with me, but it started me thinking beyond the beans.

What do we need in a given day to help us feel successful? How does the organizing piece fit into that? How much chaos can we tolerate, especially when emergencies strike? Each of us will answer these questions differently.

When the unexpected happens, having some systems in place can help us navigate the surprises. Recently, I was driving home from a meeting, when I heard a loud noise. It felt like I’d hit something, although I didn’t see anything in the road. Everything seemed fine, so I continued on my mission and headed to a nearby Starbucks for an iced tea. When I got out of my car, a man approached me to explain that I’d run over something that looked like screwdriver. It punctured my tire, which made it completely flat. Not fun.

Despite this unexpected and annoying snag, I decided to get my iced tea. I sat, breathed, collected my thoughts, and devised an action plan. I took out my iPhone, which had all my contacts and essential information stored. First I called Mavis Tire, where I had purchased the tires to see if they could fix the puncture and possibly tow me to their shop. They said they could fix it, but could not get me there. Then I called AAA to come tow me to Mavis. Next I called my husband to let him know what was going on. The tow truck arrived by the time I’d finished my iced tea. Mavis was able to patch the hole, which cost me nothing since my tires were insured. In less than two hours, everything was fixed and I was home.

5 Success Tips for “Surprises”

1. Breathe – Panicking doesn’t help. Give yourself a moment to breathe, collect your thoughts, consider your options, and make a plan.

2. Care Take – Emergency situations use up additional energy. Take care of yourself so that you will be better equipped to handle the challenges. This can be as simple as sitting, talking with a loved one, or slowly enjoying a beverage or healthy snack.

3. Reach Out – When surprises strike, we often need to enlist help from others. Help can come from professionals, family, friends, or even strangers.

4. Prep – We never know when an emergency will happen or what we might need. Having contact information organized in an easily accessible manner can make all the difference between feeling stressed or calm.

5. Appreciate – We often take for granted when life runs smoothly. Especially when the unexpected occurs, it allows us another opportunity to express gratitude and appreciation for what we normally don’t stop to think about.

We’ve all experienced emergencies. What success strategies work for you? Come join the conversation and add to the list.

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Reader Comments (13)

Linda I so LOVE this post!
It's so easy to get on the mat when hardships or not-so-fun surprises arise but I have counted always on my "structure" to keep me in place. In writing a book my husband came with "structure & content" and we now use it for everything. I have my structure to keep things in place, even when the "content" of my days throw me a harder ball. But, I really love how you took it on stride and had your iced tea! HIgh five for you! :-)

September 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHelena Alkhas

Helena- I love the phrase you share, "structure & content." As organizers, perhaps that's what we are always aiming for. We help our clients to create a structure that works for every day, but also provides support when those "fun surprises" arise.

Thank you for sharing and I appreciate the virtual high five.

September 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Number 5 is jumping out at me.
File this under, "Strange but True" I have almost the same story except, my version involves a wallet being dropped in a parking lot mid-commotion.

Fast-forward many hours after the incident; I received a call. A pre-school teacher found the wallet, in the parking lot and called me. She would not [absolutely refused!} to accept a token of my appreciation.

Everyday, since then, I've spent a few minutes thinking about her, her act of kindness and all the good things that the flat tire brought with it, including my, "daily moments" of appreciation. So much to be thankful for. Cheers, Linda (raising my iced tea!)

September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeralin Thomas

Geralin- So lovely to be "story mates" with you. There's so much to be thankful for, especially when we are open to seeing it. I love how the kindness you received on that day has stayed with you and serves as a regular reminder for being grateful. Clinking glasses with you virtually...and soon, we'll be able to clink in person. See you in Chicago!

September 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

Yesterday, I was talking about people's ability to bounce back. That whether you do, don't or how much you can is curious to me - how it happens for some and not for others. And here you are, articulating some of the ways to support being more resilient.

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSue West

Sue, Another professional organizer and I (Janice Russell) attended a 2-day event at Duke University where a variety of experts (psychologists, professors, marketing students, etc.) spoke on one topic: Decision Making. For most of us, bouncing back is about making a decision to let go of an issue and "reboot" or shift our focus + intention. It's a topic that both Janice and I are very interested.

Nice knowing you are interested in exploring this topic too. We'll have to chat about it when we see each other at conferences.

September 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGeralin Thomas

@Sue- How interesting that this post is so timely based on what you've been thinking and talking about. Being able to bounce back after setbacks is essential for experiencing forward movement.

You've inspired an idea to continue with a follow-up post. I'll email you the details. I'm excited about it and hope you are too.

@Geralin- The event that you and Janice attended sounded amazing. Decision making is a huge topic in itself and interesting to see how it ties into this idea of rebooting and bouncing back after mishaps or disappointments.

I just sent you an email, along with Sue and a few others. Let me know what you think.

September 15, 2012 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Thanks for these tips. It really applies to real life situations. It has opened my eyes to things I have neglected and to things I keep on thinking. I hope many people will read this and realize something like what I have realized.

November 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFrank Bentley

Frank- Thank you so much for stopping by to share your thoughts. I'm glad that you found these tips useful. They'll be there for you the next time you experience one of life's "surprises." I appreciate your positive feedback.

November 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

One tip I can add to this discussion is to not just BE PREPARED, but remember what you've done to get prepared. While transferring belongings from my old car to my new one (selectively of course!), I discovered an emergency kit containing matches, a candle, small emergency blanket, and other such items. I'd won it at a trade show, tucked it away in my car, and forgotten about it. Fortunately, I've never needed it, but it would have been one of those ironic tragedies if I'd ever frozen to death in my car with a blanket just a couple of feet away...

February 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

Janet- Congratulations on your new car! Lucky for you, the "new" prompted you to remember how well prepared you actually are in case of an emergency. A good thing. But you bring up a good point. How do we remember that we HAVE prepared? That's an interesting question. I know that "buying a new car" isn't the practical response. However, there's something about this, which is worth considering. It's the idea that when we change something whether that's a car, a space, or a job, it forces us to evaluate where we are, what we have, and take stock. Opportunity and change are great reminders for what we're doing well and what we need to tweak.

February 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

I just read in my devotion this morning to fully embrace the journey that today will bring knowing My Presence will be with you! ...No matter what the day brings!! Love your personal example with steps for success no matter what the situation!

February 14, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTracy Hoth

Thanks so much, Tracy. Much of our experience is in the attitude we choose...being open to "fully embrace the journey," as you shared and having the faith that we can embrace all challenges no matter what surprises arise. Most appreciate you stopping by to share with us.

February 14, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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