To Push or To Let Go?

“Set a goal!” “Schedule your time.” “Work smarter, not harder.” “Get a system.” “You can sleep when you’re dead.” We’ve all heard it. Many of us espouse it, too. We all seem to want to make good use of our time, get ahead, make things happen. But what happens when it seems the universe is conspiring against us? 

My new master bathroom is 95% complete; it’s been 95% finished for, oh, 6 weeks or more, and was scheduled to be finished today at long last. Let me just say for the record that I loathe construction. I have a 5-year-old, a puppy, a spouse with a demanding job, and a business which I run from a home office. My life is not conducive to having dust, noise, and mayhem… or rather, any more of those things than I have on an average day. So having a mere 5% of the bathroom yet to complete so we can actually use the loo and wash our hands in the same room, is, well, crazy-making for me. But I have had to accept that I have no control over the situation. Neither, by the way, does my contractor. 

We decided to put in a custom glass countertop, and acknowledged that it would lengthen the timeline of the bathroom by 2-3 weeks. All was under control. The contractor was project-managing the process and trying to move things along. We had to approve samples, make miniscule decisions about corner radii, color, thickness. We were ready to roll. And then, Murphy’s Law struck. 

The glass vendor made the first counter out of the wrong color glass. The second one broke in manufacturing (remind me, who thought glass would be a good idea?). The third one got to the painting stage before they realized the glass was the wrong thickness. So with bated breath, they scheduled an installation date for the fourth attempt at our beautiful countertop. The truck pulled up this morning and we all eagerly peered into the van to take a look. And realized that they had made it for drop-in sinks rather than the undermount sinks that we ordered. Our collective heart sank. Anything that could go wrong, had. Everyone had worked in good faith, trying to make this one piece of a bathroom right. And once again, we cannot finish the bathroom. Do we laugh or cry? 

How often have you had the last 5% of a project give you h-e-double-hockeysticks? It happens to all of us, at one time or another. What did you do? Did you rant and rave? Shrug it off? Indulge in an extra-large ice-cream with chocolate sauce? Or laugh? Or cry? 

Every time it happens to me, when I can gain the perspective to look back, I go through the 5 Stages of Murphy’s Law: 1) Controlling the details to avoid any problems (ha!). 2) Frustration. 3) Anger. 4) Disbelief. And finally, 5) Acceptance. One of these days, perhaps I’ll be able to skip right to step 5? 

Because in the end, things will happen when they happen. Yes, we can plan. Yes, we can set goals and work toward them. Yes, we can try to get further, faster. In most cases, we probably will by using these organizational, personal success, and motivational tools. But every so often there will be something that just throws a wrench in the works. A countertop that refuses to be made correctly. A sick family member, or our own health issues. Someone’s need with which you feel compelled and called to assist. And in these cases, we learn that sometimes we need to be open to just letting things happen, rather than making them happen. 

And they help us appreciate those times when we do manage to make things happen. Part of success is the preparation for when the window of opportunity opens. And part of it is the wisdom to know when it is open, and when it has a “Closed” sign up, and we need to wait patiently outside until Murphy is done with his lunch break.