There’s a time and place for attempting to make things happen. But usually, responding to what’s happening around you tends to be a more effective strategy.
After all, you and I both know trying to control anything tends to be a waste of time and effort. We think we can control stuff, but we aren’t in control of much—other than ourselves.
Indeed, “making something happen” is another way to say you want to control or force something to be a certain way—the way you think it should be. You want to be right—“I know the ‘right’ way this should be, and I will make/force it to be that way.” Making things happen, controlling circumstances, and forcing something to be different all tend to be hard work. And, in my experience, all that effort doesn’t typically reap great results either.
So when I was told by more than one human design coach to simply respond to whatever life brings my way—and to stop trying to make things happen or control outcomes—I was a bit miffed. How would I ever get anything done or create change by responding? And if nothing new appeared in my life to which I could respond, what then?
Make Things Happen
The way I saw things, I spent most of my days making things happen. I didn’t understand how I would make progress on…well…anything.
Professionally, responding seemed like a broken strategy. What about marketing my monthly transformational coaching program, the Inspired Creator Community? What was I supposed to respond to so I would gain new members—especially if no one was contacting me about joining (so I could respond to their questions)?
And my latest book project…how was I to respond to that? Maybe I’d get a creative urge to which I could respond, but what if I didn’t? And what if an agent didn’t reach out to me before I sent a query (an improbable scenario)…was I supposed to just wait around?
On a personal level, this strategy didn’t inspire confidence in me either. What about making myself work out daily or controlling my calorie intake? What about forcing myself to fold and put away laundry? What about controlling my puppy’s behavior?
How to Respond
After some thought…and some trial and error…I discovered that I could still get a lot done by responding. And it’s way easier than making things happen.
For instance, I can respond to a coaching session I deliver to the Inspired Creator Community members by sharing it on social media. That counts as marketing, but I’m simply sharing my response—my excitement or insights.
As for my book project, I can respond to the desire to write or not write in various ways. For instance, I can pick up my laptop and dive in when inspired, or I can respond to my lack of creativity by writing at a different time than planned.
And I can respond to my desire to have my book traditionally published by reaching out to agents. Plus, I can query those agents I intuitively feel drawn to.
To respond to my daily “workout” action item, I can see it as an opportunity to feel better about myself and my health—or even a way to free up some calories for dessert that night, so it’s not a forced action. And if I’m not feeling energetic, I can respond to that state by walking rather than lifting weights.
As for laundry, when I see it in the basket (clean or dirty), I can respond by putting it in the washing machine or folding it—and getting that feeling of “I should handle this” off my mind. I can, of course, also respond by ignoring it.
Responding is all about choice, and you always have a choice about how you respond. You can choose a response to whatever you see, hear, feel, or think. The same goes for what people say or do and circumstances and experiences that arise—you can choose your response.
See Opportunities to Respond
Slowly but surely, I’m increasing my awareness of opportunities to respond. This includes responding to my husband’s moods, my friends’ requests, my energy levels, my commitments, emails from marketers, and more. I pay attention and then respond intentionally.
Just this past week, I had two opportunities arise. I immediately became conscious that I could respond to them. I had the choice to say “yes” or “no.”
I also chose a new response to my husband’s work frustration. I decided not to react with irritation. Instead, I responded by allowing him to have his own experience without getting involved in it or trying to fix it.
Typically, I want to control his mood or make him happier. However, my new response allowed me to give up trying to make him change in some way that I thought would be “better.”
Respond Rather than React
Keep in mind that responding is different than reacting. More often than not, we react to things habitually, which means we have an unconscious habit. If you are like me, your habitual reaction is to make things happen, control a situation, or force something or something to conform to your standards (or you wouldn’t be reading this post).
So, one of my reactions might be getting angry at my husband when he feels frustrated by work. I might also suggest he look for a new job or hire help. This is me trying to make something happen, control the situation, or force change.
We all have habitual reactions. These are not responses.
Responses are thought out and conscious. They involve a choice about how to behave, think, speak, feel, etc. So each time you find yourself reacting, you can do it differently…to respond instead.
You can find many things every day to respond to and numerous ways to respond. And responding feels easier and less frustrating, for sure. Not only that, but when you stop trying to make things happen, you’ll be happier and more relaxed. After all, making things happen is no longer up to you.
Does making things happen work for you, or would responding be a better strategy? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with a friend or on social media.
If you want to increase your ability to create desired results—like meeting your rejection quota, let’s chat. Get on my calendar here. Or join the Inspired Creator Community for group personal and spiritual growth coaching every month. It’s in this community that real transformation happens…
Photo courtesy of Jesse Bowser.