Want less stress and more control? Do This!

control coping stress Feb 05, 2019

Yesterday morning began the same as most.

6:30am alarm.

Hit snooze.

Hit snooze, again.

Get up. Unlock the back door for Ben’s assistants. Turn on the kitchen lights and back to the bedroom to get a shower.

I decide to browse my iPhone while waiting for the water to heat up and find an amusing Facebook post.

I start a sarcastic reply and then … SILENCE.

No power! The house is back in darkness. I’m taken off-guard, not really sure what happened. and feel a small wave of anxiety rise inside.

I find the power company’s website and discover that there are 1,500 customers affected by the outage.

Good! It’s not just me. It’s not the whole world, either (maybe that’s where the panic came from). But it would take at least 2 hours for it to be restored.

That's too long to go without power in the winter. So, I throw on a heavy coat and brave the -20C weather to start our generator … which, by the way, isn’t easy to do with arctic winds biting at your face and hands.

The generator is able to power enough of the house to allow all us to get ready for work and school.

The delay getting out the door is less than an hour, which still gives Ben enough time to get to class and attend an important meeting with his prof to talk about the course work.

All good!

Quadrant 2 Work

As I drove to work that morning, it struck me how very different the day could have unfolded (and not in a good way) if we didn’t have that generator.

All the planning and preparation we had done over the last few years ... getting the house re-wired, finding the right generator, testing it so we knew what to expect ... the big payoff was that day.

It was all done little by little, bit by bit. Because of that, life was interrupted only slightly.

The power outage became a kind of metaphor. Why it’s important to be prepared when things go wrong, or at least go unexpectedly, because they will ...

So that you’re in a position where you know what to do ...

Where you can still make that meeting with your prof ...

Where you can keep moving forward.

Such is with life. To not wait until the crisis is bearing down on you.

Stephen Covey would say that you should “quadrant 2 life”. Where you focus on things that are important like preparation, prevention, planning, and relationship building.

Quadrant 2 things are those that are important but not urgent. These are NOT things that must be done today ... but should be.

Planning ahead is a quadrant 2 activity.

Getting exercise is a quadrant 2 activity.

Learning all you can about your child's upcoming surgery is a quadrant 2 activity.

Researching new caregivers to support you is a quadrant 2 activity.

Finding some quiet time with your spouse is a quadrant 2 activity.

You get the picture!

You don't have to do it today, or tomorrow. But if you do, you're spending time on important things, on things that come first.

They are deposits into your “bank account of stress-free living” that you can withdraw when a crisis hits.

Think about it this way.

In the 10 minutes it took me to restore power to our house, I couldn’t run out to Home Depot to get a generator and then call an electrician to come over to re-wire the house.

That’s ridiculous, right?

Of course, I’m not saying you should rush out and buy a generator but …

Your Litmus Test

Here’s your litmus test.

When you woke up this morning, were you ready for the day?

I mean REALLY ready for whatever life threw at you like something as common as a power outage?

Were you ready for the unexpected, or did you hope that nothing fell off the rails?

Did part of your day include planning and preparation time? Or were your running hard all day from one urgent thing to another?

Here's the deal ...

If you prepare a little each day, then you can likely answer yes to each of those questions. And, at the end of the day, you will have systematically reduced the stress in your life and gained more control, even though it may not seem like much.

Put it another way (more Stephen Covey): “The key is not to prioritize your schedule but schedule your priorities.”



I shouldn’t have done it that morning. Resist the temptation and live!

Join our private Facebook group and share your quadrant 2 activities, or your plan to do more of those :)