IT Can Never Happen To Me!?

It’s been a strange week here in the NYC area. First we had an earthquake in midweek and we are in the midst of dealing with Hurricane Irene. Having been a Category 3 hurricane, I was able to lean on my own experiences to get ready for Irene’s arrival. While the geography of both the NYC metro area and Jamaica are totally different, one could see why government officials are so concerned about the potential for flooding and overall damage to the Tri-State during and after the storm’s passage.

While both the earthquake and hurricane were clearly different types of natural events, the range of responses to both have been eerily similar. On one end, some took the overly cautious/prepared approach – especially with the hurricane – and others took the other extreme that “I’m a New Yorker I can ride this stuff out”. While there is no right or wrong way to think, I will bet for those who are without power and or water, the ones who were more prepared will fare a bit better than those who are using their “toughness to ride it out”.

The craziest part of the watching the storm coverage for me was seeing the instances of two people kayaking off a NYC beach and needed rescue. When I saw that story all I could do initially was to shake my head. But the more that story stayed with me, the phrase “it can never happen to me” came to mind as a fitting summary.

Why were they out there in the first place? Maybe they felt like the opportunity was to too great to pass up – to say you kayaked out in hurricane level surfed and survived. Maybe they had done it before and felt like nothing would happen to them. Maybe they were just morons who didn’t think things through.

Ultimately it sounds like they were having a bad case of the “it could never happen to me” syndrome.

Ever had that one friend who you KNOW is a cheater, and has gotten caught in the past, yet still cheats anyways? How about that cousin who ALWAYS had to have family bail him out of a tight spot and yet they keep making the same mistake constantly? What about that coworker who continues to tell you about those get rich quick schemes that NEVER work but is always trying to pull you into one? How about the talented little kid who never chases his dreams because the people who are closest to him keeping telling him that he will never make it?

Why are they always stuck on doing the same thing over and over again? Will they ever learn? Are they planning to fail or failing to plan? No, they’re living on the belief that “it will never happen to them”.

What happens is that there are folks who will live by the “seat of their pants”. They will always be the architects of “adjusting on the fly”. Ever had that one friend who always has stories to tell of places her traveled to and stuff he did? How about that cousin who has made a career of doing every part-time job in the book? While some have chosen this lifestyle because that’s how best they feel they are productive, there are some how get trapped into this way of life and never see the value of a plan and following through on it.

One the other hand there are those who making plans is where they are most comfortable. They will have elaborate ideas, craft the plans to match, yet execute them terribly. Some get stuck in the thought that the plan is the only way to go, and it must be followed to the letter. They don’t often see that the plan is a guide and sometimes a bad plan is a bad plan. Adjustments need to be made and they may never be willing to step outside their comfort zone and learn to think on the fly.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not bashing either ways of doing things. It’s just that life always has a way of reminding us that we have more of the power to choose our own outcomes than we may realize. We can choose to have a good plan or always be the one to “live life on the fly”. We can choose to be one who thinks the grass is always greener with a new partner on the side, or that it’s better to talk to the one I’m with to see if I can get what I want in that relationship. Being more active in our choices means that more positive things can happen to someone, and some negative things can be avoided.

Whatever we decide, choosing not to see the consequences of our actions in a blind belief that “it will never happen to me” is not a choice anyone can afford to make.

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