February was a weird month in the Northern Rockies. There were a bunch of unseasonable warming cycles and little new snow. When you’re a big skier, this is a special kind of torture and it’s not just about missing powder turns. 45 degrees just feels wrong. You don’t wanna (insert foot stomp) bring out your spring jacket yet. The melting snow is brown and ugly. You get a pit in your stomach when you see the snow pack along the road receding to reveal … ugh … grass. The electric sense of anticipation each morning in the tram line is replaced with a vague sense of boredom and resignation.
And then, just when it seems that it will never snow again, the temperature drops and it does. The mountain gets quieter, more beautiful and a little extra magical. You relish the giddy feeling of carving a long, powdery, floaty line without hearing the irritating scratch of old, crusty snow. The mood on the slopes is given voice by whoops and hollers from skiers who are feeling the same combination of joy and relief. Winter is still here, at least for a few more weeks.
If this all sounds a bit dramatic, well, it is. But it doesn’t have to be. It got me thinking about how the uncontrollable conditions of life — like weather, in this case — can have a big impact on your mood, self-esteem, outlook and productivity, unless you’ve got two things:
2) a plan
Take running, for example. Maybe you usually get a runner’s high at mile 2, which is an awesome feeling, but today your muscles feel like lead instead and you can’t find your pace. Are you going to stop because it doesn’t feel good? Or will you find a way to make the most of the outing?
Or your yoga class. Maybe you usually relish the calming effect of a solid practice. But today you had a tough day at work and you’re feeling stressed, you can’t seem to smooth out your breath, and the guy next to you has BO. Can you overcome these frustrating factors to get the most of your practice?
Or, maybe you’re job searching. At first there were infinite possibilities and it was exciting to go after new opportunities. But now you’ve hit the first few roadblocks and you’re left with a new, nagging sense of insecurity and uncertainty. Will you manage to summon the grit and tenacity to keep your head up and maintain your confidence?
Whether you’re skiing, or working out, or facing other things in life, career or relationships, the fact is that difficult things are always easier when the weather is fine.
All is right with the world when it snows.
I know I have a tendency to be affected by uncontrollable factors. I like the feeling of having it all within my control, and when things don’t go according to plan, I can get bummed or annoyed and lose energy. But that’s not life — there will always be outside, non-ideal factors to contend with. Being aware of this tendency is the first step toward continually building the tenacity that I value.
The second step is to have a plan. For me, I know I get a big lift via feelings of personal empowerment and goal achievement. So I like to set myself up with small, achievable goals for how I will deal with the situation that will make me feel like an obstacle-smashing, unflappable force. Trying a new, physically challenging sport. Or sending an email to someone who would be a great contact but who intimidates the hell out of me.
Or, if all else fails, opening a pint of Haagen-Daz (just kidding … I prefer whiskey).
The point is, it’s easy to feel great when it’s dumping snow mid-week and you’ve got the day off. But the real test is how will you respond when it gets warm too early in the season, it stops snowing and the ugly, brown grass starts to peek through? I don’t know about you, but this is the test I want to not only pass, but get a big gold star on.