Life Shifts, Do You Zig or Zag?

Can chaos and balance co-exist?

The past six months have been full of life shifts.

You want a few examples? Thanks for asking!

  1. November saw a bear hug given and mom zigged rather than zagged and ended up with a twisted rib cage. The chiropractor said it was like a man wearing his shorts a quarter of a turn to the side and walking. Did you wince? It hurt!
  2. December saw our SUV totaled. Hubby was stationary but the guy behind us was distracted and zigged his way right into us. Life shifted.
  3. March landed us a huge life shift as my mother-in-law passed away. We knew it would happen, yet the life shift had us zagging our way through grief, shepherding our family through crisis, and more change.
  4. June saw our  fourth child marry a lovely young woman in South Dakota, around 1500 miles to our west. Life shifted again.

Work Life Rhythm versus Chaos

We all deal with life shifts, chaos and crisis in our lives.

I think the older we get, the more we deal with these life shifts. You have everything planned out, but life throws a curve ball.

AirBnB New Wilmington PA Schoolhouse #8

Sometimes these life shifts are silly and unanticipated.

I decided to drive to South Dakota for my son’s wedding. A road trip sounded like fun and a way to spend some time with my 18-year-old son who was the best man. Being the good organizer that I am, I had everything scheduled, planned and booked. We AirBnB’d our way across the country.

First day we left to drive to the west side of Pennsylvania. Gorgeous views, great hiking, tons of fun. Exhausted, but enthusiastic, we stopped for the first night at a quaint Schoolhouse. It was smack dab in the middle of Amish country, full of charm, antiques and a bubbling brook running outside the back door. Yes, that is a functioning school bell at the top of the schoolhouse.

Life Shifts; AirBnB New Wilmington PA Schoolhouse #8 Bed

Nighttime came and I woke up and was looking out the window. All was calm, peaceful. I shifted around to return to the bed when my left foot connected with the leg of the bed. Ouch! I zigged when I should have zagged. First day of a 11-day road trip and here I am hobbling around.

I still had a wedding to attend, a rehearsal dinner to coordinate, a lot of life and chaos ahead. I wanted to wear those pretty sandals to the wedding; silly stuff like that was going through my mind.

What was I going to do? Be miserable? Throw a hissy fit? Perform a course correct?

Grit, Grace and Life Shifts

I am a firm believer in grit and grace.

The grit was me taping the poor little toe up and keep on going. Thank goodness I had shoes with me that accommodated a very swollen, fractured toe. Most people were not even aware of the injury. I even managed to do some limited hiking.

The grace was giving myself permission to reset, balance out my expectations, and move forward.

How can you embrace life shifts in your business?

Chaos happens and suddenly overwhelm bares it’s ugly teeth. Something shifts and you concentrate on the negative rather than embracing the chaos.

Gorgeous Chaos

I call it my gorgeous chaos. I try to see the beauty in the life shifts in our business rather than focus on being immovable, intractable and inflexible.

Below are some ways that we can embrace the life shifts, create gorgeous chaos and balance expectations.


The client calls and needs to shift a meeting. You feel your blood pressure increasing thinking about your already full day. How do you handle this chaos?

  1. Shift the meeting to accommodate the client
  2. Huff and puff and refuse to shift the meeting
  3. Explain your full schedule to the client and tell them you would be happy to accommodate them the following day

I would recommend Option 1 if you really can readily accommodate the shift, but my optimal recommendation is Option 3. You are setting boundaries for your time, establishing expectations and accommodating a shift.


You sent the file to the printer on time, with everything laid out and tied with a pretty bow. Unfortunately, the printer makes a mess of the order and you are on automatic overwhelm. How will you meet your deadline? Those are needed for X event. What are you going to do with this life shift?

  1. Yell at the vendor and tell them they have ruined your project.
  2. Demand an immediate refund and tell them you will take your business elsewhere.
  3. Discuss the matter calmly, let them know where they did not meet your expectations and come up with a solution.

I saw you roll your eyes! The emotionally satisfaction of Option 1 and 2 does not matter in business. We are professionals and need to present that executive presence. Option 3 allows you to find a resolution. Most mistakes are not done on purpose and most vendors will go out of their way to rectify the mistake. Always try to build a little extra time into projects so you have a wee bit of wiggle room for these mishaps.


You completed a project and you are pleased with the result. You are sure the client is going to be over the moon. They are not happy. That want a change in font, layout, spacing, etc.

I struggle with these types of shifts. That is why I now create style guides for my clients. Their project has a predetermined color, font and spacing scheme before the project is even started. I also state in my contract on creative projects that they have two updates, after that they are charged for each change.

You don’t have to be inflexible, but you do need to anticipate potential problems and have contracts in place to protect your investment of time and energy.

“A contract protects you, your time, and sets client expectations.” – Lisa Olinda

Remember, when life shifts, determine how you are going to respond. Zig or zag but embrace the chaos and smile.