I am a classic over scheduler. I often try to take on more than I should and do more than is reasonably possible in the time available to me. While this results in a bit of stress from time to time, in most instances I am able to manage it.
However, today as I write this, I am sitting on a plane, getting ready to take off from Houston, with my final destination Washington D.C. I missed my original flight, which departed about two hours ago. In my quest to make the most out of my trip to Houston, I ended up with a very limited window of time to get from my last meeting back to the airport. In fact, I had to leave the meeting early, because I hadn't allowed for enough flex time between activities.
I was excited when I reached the airport in more than enough time and would even have time to grab a bite to eat after making it through security. Then the moment of panic set in, as I realized I did not have my purse with me. I was without both my ID and my credit cards, which makes boarding a flight difficult. To make matters worse, I wasn't sure where I had left my purse. After frantically calling my Uber driver, I realized that my purse was actually across town, at the meeting I had stepped out of earlier. Fortunately, I had a co-worker who was just leaving the meeting and was able to find my missing purse. He was also kind enough to agree to drop my purse off at the airport. However, as we worked through the logistics, I realized there was no way he would be able to get across Houston rush hour traffic to get my purse to me before takeoff.
I'll admit I experienced much anxiety as all of this was going on. At the time, all I could think about was that I was going to miss my flight. After talking to my husband, who helped to calm me down, as well as the gate agent, who assured me there was a later flight that I would be able to take, I finally began to calm down. In fact, once I was over the initial panic, I realized that missing my flight was not, in fact, the worst thing that could happen.
As I worked through my stresses at the airport, I began to think about all of the events that had led me to not have my purse. It all started the night before when I stayed up much later than usual working to meet a very aggressive deadline. My lack of sleep, compounded with trying to pack too much into my Houston trip, kept me from the advance planning and preparation that I normally undertake, ultimately leading to preventable mistakes from my side.
Eventually, I did make it safely to my destination. I also learned a valuable lesson: Sometimes it is better to not take on more than may be reasonably achievable. Moreover, I learned that when things don't go as planned, stressing about it won't help. In this case, once I recognized that I would be taking a later flight, I was able to sit down and enjoy dinner before my flight. I also was able to reflect on the day (high points and low points), and identify follow-up actions and lessons learned.