I hate wasting time…and therefore I’m often late. If I need to leave at 3pm, and I’m ready to go at 2:56, I won’t just leave early…instead I will find something I can get done in four minutes. Sadly, I’m bad at time estimates and that usually means that I end up leaving late.
I also blame other life circumstances: I lived in Pakistan where being late is the norm, I went to UC Berkeley where classes actually start 10 minutes after the advertised time, and I grew up in a family of 7—one of the kids always caused us to be late (not me of course, haha). The point is that I often find myself on the late train.
It took me years, but I finally figured out how to deal with these situations. When you are late, your natural inclination is to stress out and rush. It’s an instinctual reaction and it makes sense. However, it can be ineffective.
The secret to relaxing during stressful situations is to recognize what is in your control and what isn’t.
Sure, maybe I caught the late train…I am going to need to rush when I get off the train in order to reach my destination on-time or as not-late as possible.
Yet, right now, while I’m stuck on the train, or the bus, or whatever, I can’t actually make it go faster. I have NO control over the train, so I shouldn’t stress while I’m on the train.
Instead, when I find myself on the late train, I take a pause, a deep breath, and make a plan for what to do when the train arrives.
This is not just about time. Life is going to put you on a lot of ‘late trains’. Maybe you forgot to do an errand during business hours and have to wait til tomorrow, or maybe you just applied to a program and are waiting to hear back. One way or another, you are often in situations outside your control.
The more you calm yourself in the face of stress, the more likely it is that you will achieve the most positive action available.
Every time your heart starts to race…ask yourself if you are on a late train.
Recognize that fact and rather than stress, just start planning for what you will do when the train arrives…it’s a lot more peaceful that way.