I used to DREAD getting stuck by a train. I’d just count the engine cars until I got dizzy and disinterested. I’d crane my neck looking down the tracks in the distance for the last train-car. Sometimes, I’d visualize a path in my head to get around the train on side streets so that I could save a few minutes in the day and claim victory over the lumbering line of shipping crates full of who knows what. I’m happy to report, I’m not really that guy anymore.
These days, I’m not so put-out about being stuck by a train! I look forward to being stuck in one place with nothing more to do than think. Or try not to think. It’s like forced downtime, or maybe just adult time-out. When you’re stuck at the tracks waiting for it all to end, it forces you to be present in the moment. I mean, you can’t just put the car in park and grab a nap or whip the laptop out and catch-up on email. You have to accept that this is where you are and you can decided if this is a bug or a feature in your day.
The Reframe Train
Catchy because it rhymes and powerful because it’s a great trigger to remind yourself that this, like all things in life, is an opportunity. It’s only a hassle if you see it that way. It is, however, largely out of your control and your options are to spend that time being mad about the inconvenience – or to reframe this as an opportunity.
It could be that you spend this time calculating what really needs to be done today and where you’re wasting time and energy. Or you might think about the way you showed up at the last meeting. Wherever your mind takes you, in the time it takes for the train to pass you, and the gates to open again to your fast-paced and urgent life, is time you didn’t have before, to do a thing that we all do too little of these days. It’s time to reflect.
Start here when you get caught (triggered) by the train (self notes)
- Take a breath, put the car in park, and get comfortable
- Avoid the urge to check social media (just try)
- Ask yourself “What is this an opportunity to do, try, or think about?
If all else fails, just exist. Don’t try to do anything other than notice when the train is past and it’s time to get back to the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Take a few minutes to be unavailable and alone in your head.
The next time you see a train and hopefully get stuck at the tracks, remember “reframe train” and whatever you do with the rest of that time will be better than being upset about being stuck by a train. Scroll back up for a virtual version of the Reframe Train and get stuck for a while. I double-dog dare you!