I don’t know if anyone else feels the same way, but what is it about changing an appointment that can put my stomach in knots, in ways that few events can?
At the root of the feeling is the simple fact that I take my commitments seriously. When I’ve made a commitment, I like to keep it. It’s a pride thing, for sure.
When life happens and a commitment needs to change, for some reason, deep down, I feel a sense of defeat… even when it’s not my fault… or nobody’s fault.
Even though I am confident in my negotiation skills and acknowledge that most people are pretty understanding, changing an appointment seems to have a triggering effect on me.
Does that feeling originate from my school days and the looming threat of losing points if an assignment was handed in late?
Could it come from the steep fines that certain businesses charge if 24 or 48 hours’ notice isn’t provided to change an appointment?
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that things can unexpectedly happen (… and quickly!) that can de-stabilize situations no matter how much we might like certainty and clarity.
This is certainly not a new concept that started with the pandemic. It is just an example of a major disruptor, with businesses and individuals (myself included) scrambling and pivoting to keep up with short notice announcements of openings and closings.
I admit that it took some getting used to, but the rapid changes heightened my acceptance of the reality (and inevitability) that life sometimes gets complicated. Life also requires juggling, even when circumstances completely beyond my control have suddenly caused me to be double or triple-booked.
While I am certainly able to go with the flow when the need arises, the reality is that I don’t want to be a burden to people. Regular readers will recall that worry and self-inflicted guilt trips are a specialty of mine.
Maybe my sense of fear is a little exaggerated, but I place a high sense of importance and respect for people’s time and energy.
In the eyes of service providers whose business is important to me, I’d like to maintain a good reputation as someone who has his act together when placing requests, who pays on time and who doesn’t create chaos in their scheduling system. I don’t want to be a high maintenance pain-in-the-rump that has them thinking, “Oh no, not him again” when I reach out.
It comes from a place of understanding that people are busy, people have full schedules, and many businesses these days are short staffed, a situation that I am all too familiar with.
I think my apprehension for changing appointments is further exacerbated by memories of my career.
Like most people, my days were quite busy with meetings and time-sensitive deliverables. The challenge came when I would get last-minute notification that a meeting was cancelled. While on the one hand I rejoiced at the “found time” that this created, which allowed me to work on another time-sensitive deliverable. On the other hand, I always held my breath knowing that the other shoe would drop later, when the meeting would get rescheduled.
When the rescheduled meeting would not create a conflict, I would breathe a sigh of relief.
But when the meeting’s new time meant that I’d have to be in two places at once, at first I’d take a moment to feel a sense of gratitude that my skills, knowledge and service were in high regard and demand. But that feeling quickly passed when the new time created a domino effect of rescheduling.
Mutually convenient dates and times are not always easy to find when everyone’s plate is overflowing and boardrooms are booked weeks in advance.
Eventually we’d get it sorted out… that is, until the meeting gets displaced again and creates another conflict… and another session of picking up the pieces of my shattered schedule.
Sadly, a few recurring meetings got shuffled more times than a deck of cards in Vegas. After repeat performances, when I’d receive the invitation for those, in an effort to save precious time (and to preserve my sanity), I’d take a chance and remain double-booked, expecting that it will get rescheduled later. Most times, that strategy paid off.
I never wanted to be THAT person whose schedule was in constant flux and chaos, causing a ripple effect on others. The memory of the stress of having to play “fixer” and rejigging meetings and all of their logistical details, has remained with me.
That being the case, I do my very best to keep my appointments. To me it’s a matter of respect of other people’s time and energy.
But when circumstances suggest otherwise, I try to remain flexible, regardless of the plethora of feelings that may ensue over changing appointments… I just need to peacefully coexist with the possibility of disruption.
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