“Damn it – you idiot!” I said to myself in the car whilst driving to the low lands of Perth for a business networking breakfast recently – my planning skills had let me down!
You know that feeling you get when you realise something awful has happened because of your lack of planning ahead – it’s like you’ve just been punched in the stomach?
Well that’s exactly how I felt. The nauseous blow was followed unbelievably with a sense of anxiety. I’m sure you, as a reader from the so-called ‘Western World’ will have experienced this profound moment at some point in your life – yes, I realised that I had left my mobile phone at home.
I’m a coach and an NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) trainer, so I should theoretically take such things in my stride, but I am after all, still a human being, still at the mercies of normal psychological and physiological responses like anyone else. My mind began to race with inane questions:
“What if my car breaks down on the way to my meeting? I won’t be able to call on anyone for help.
Come to think of it, I don’t even remember my partner’s number or my step-son’s.”
I can, however, still remember the phone number of my family home back in Jersey from my childhood.
Anyone as old as me may recall the days when we used to answer the phone with our phone number: “Hello, two oh eight oh seven.”
In today’s technologically advanced world though, our planning skills don’t need to be as sharp – we don’t really need to remember anyone’s number because at any point we are surrounded by a plethora of devices that can find it for us.
We don’t even need to type it because ‘Siri’, our computer-generated personal assistant, can dial it for us.
Irrational fears flooded my consciousness in a matter of Nano-seconds. “I’ve got another meeting to go to after that and I’m not wearing a watch – I use my phone as a watch. What if I’m late? How will I keep track of the time?”
“Urmm, you could look at a clock on the wall, or you could ask someone the time, you idiot.” responded the calmer side of my brain.
“What if I see something that I need or want to take a photo of?” asked the crazy side of me.
“If it’s really that important, you just ask someone else to photograph it, you numbnuts” responded my clearly irritated, rational alter ego.
Not content with slagging me off for my ridiculous anxiety attack over a simple lack of forward planning, albeit a very short-lived one, my rational brain reminded me of an important consideration, “How do you think you managed to exist for about thirty something years before mobile phones came along, you dipstick?”
“Oh yeh,” said my irrational side, “I did, didn’t I?”
Within further Nano-seconds, I realised that if someone was trying to reach me, they’d leave a message that I’d pick up later. Here’s the absolute game-changer though – I wouldn’t actually die from lack of access to Facebook for a few hours – phew!
Reassured that I was no longer in imminent danger owing to my feelings of nakedness and helplessness caused by the absence of my trusty mobile phone, and acknowledging that it was too late to return home for this life-sustaining device, I put my fight or flight response kit back in its package and continued boldly on to my meeting. I even felt strangely empowered by this act of flagrant defiance of contemporary custom.
The next day, a friend of mine posted how she had caught a train into the city, only to realise she had forgotten her reading glasses. Following on from my own senior moment, I was reminded of the scene from the Austin Powers movie, where he checks his preparedness by quoting the old expression, “Spectacles, testacles, wallet and watch.” and I pondered how I could avoid such a calamitous scenario in the future. As an interesting side-bar there are a few theories about where that expression came from.
One is that if you touch them in the generally accepted order, it makes the sign of the cross. There is the logical aspect that typically men will wear a watch on the less dominant hand (so it doesn’t get scratched) and the wallet in the back pocket on the side of their dominant hand (so it’s easier to access). We all have our testacles in the same place, barring unfortunate sporting injuries, and mostly wear our spectacles on our heads. A person named ‘Just lile Olly’ advised on a forum that the origin came from a “priest and rabbi” joke, where the protagonists sat next to each other on a plane. At some point, the conversation inevitably was about religion, before the plane crashed.
When the priest gets out of the wreck, he realises that his survival is a miracle. Then, he sees the rabbi in the distance, doing what looks like the sign of the cross, so he confronts the rabbi with a hallelujah about having seen the light and so on, whereupon the rabbi replies: “What cross? I only checked everything was in order”, followed by those four items.
So, here’s a possible forward planning solution to such gut-wrenching dilemmas– religiously keep your phone with your car keys and you won’t leave home without it!
The only problem is that I sometimes charge up my phone in different places in the house, whereas my car keys have a mostly consistent depository.
I also find it handy if I must remember to take a large item with me, that I leave it blocking the exit door, thus making it impossible not to exit without fulfilling my chore. One respondent advised that this wouldn’t work for them because they have multiple exit doors!
At an earlier stage in life I used to regularly fly light aircraft, where we had a succession of check-lists to follow. That was more for safety reasons, but I suppose if you don’t want to experience the pangs of anxiety and loss of safety associated with forgetting your phone, then you need to change the way you do things and have a clear strategy for success, backed up with a workable system. That sounds familiar? Oh right, I’m a business and life strategist and coach – “No wonder, you idiot!” I say to myself!
If you’d like to help me stop insulting myself by sharing any of your ‘senior moment’ anecdotes, I’d love to hear about them. If you’d like some help on developing strategies or putting systems in place, then let’s catch up for a coffee.
Meanwhile here’s another article I wrote that would also help you with your forward planning – it’s about changing your behaviour by asking yourself better questions.