I am coming out the other side of getting the financial plan fleshed out for our made to measure vision. Working on it, getting it down on paper, and seeing a complete version has brought a huge amount of relief. And I also had an important change of perspective on the financial planning work, while stepping away from it over lunch to cook and listen to Tara Brach. Her talk was on "Relaxing the Over-Controller - Part 1". At the very beginning of her talk she enlightened me to the startling fact that I probably spend 95% of the day bracing myself to control one aspect or another of my business and my life. A lot of us do: I want to see these emails in my inbox when I wake up (where are they!?), I want to accomplish x, y, and z this week...this month...this quarter. What’s the hold-up!? I want to feel calm in my day-to-day activities. Why am I so anxious today? Why can’t I be calm!!?? I want this person to respond to whatever in this way. I want to have Vietnamese Noodles for dinner. CLOSED!!???? WHAT AM I GOING TO DO NOW!!??? THAT WAS THE PLAN!!!
What becomes especially apparent when one starts a business, though true for every part of life, is that there is so much we can’t control. We can show up, we can prepare, we can be smart, and invest in our relationships, but a lot of what happens moment to moment is beyond our control. When I started on the financial plan for the made to measure work, I knew there was this friction, “I can’t control all these things! I am filling it all in like I can control it but I can’t!!” I would turn to Drew and say–but what if this happens or what if that happens, how do I account for it? It was as if part of my fraught relationship with control involved figuring out how to account for all of the challenges and unexpected events that I, at this point, know to expect. Well that's impossible folks because they are unexpected.
And then it came to me listening to Tara Brach suggest that we shift from the controller to the watchful observer, who stays very present and closely watches what happens. And so the financial plan shifted from an exercise in controlling the future (impossible) to a hypothesis: I am going to take action on x, y and z informed by a, b and c and then I am going to watch and observe and make changes and course corrections. The importance is not controlling the events but illuminating the observations, tracking them, learning from them and using them to make decisions. Ahhh. Breath easy. We are not trying to control the uncontrollable – just enabling a full experience of what we are learning right now to fuel our growth and the growth of our endeavors.
In all likelihood this shift from the controller trying to account for every contingency to an observer armed with excellent tools to track their observations is more important than ever before. So much is changing in this crazy world of ours. We can make predictions and take best guesses but ultimately we do ourselves and our endeavors a great service by taking a step back – recognizing that things will unfold in ways that we cannot predict or anticipate and instead focus our energy on our systems and tools to take action on what is really happening moment to moment in our world. Besides if we spend too much time focused on what we think might happen we very well might miss the important details of what’s actually taking place.