“Do you ever feel like a plastic bag drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?”
-Katy Perry, “Firework”
You’re not alone. As of 2017, over 60% of Americans have reported being stressed about money and work, let alone other life and world issues.
Is that all life has to offer?
Opa! In Greek culture, “Opa!” is an expression used as a light-hearted way of turning curveballs, mistakes (or even failures) into celebrations; knowing that life is good no matter what happens.
The attitude that no matter how things seem, you can feel a sense of freedom that all is still well.
This is a better mindset than feeling like the world is crashing down.
For instance, if you lose your job, you could think your life is over. In fact, approximately 20-30% of all suicides are related to unemployment. Or you could look at it as an opportunity to find a career you really enjoy.
There is always something to look forward to if you choose to find it.
But why wait until the sh** hits the fan?
While “Opa!” is often expressed as a celebration of life in Greek culture, it actually means “Oops!” or “Stop!”
At a moment that commands your attention, like dropping a plate accidentally that shatters on the ground, or you’re about to hit another car while parking, you can feel stressed out and embarrassed.
While it’s good to forgive yourself for making a mistake, and you really want to know if you’re about to do something you’ll regret afterward, is there an even better way than accepting the oops (and possible lumps) after the fact?
Would You Rather Be the Windshield or the Bug?
Sometimes you’re the windshield
Sometimes you’re the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you’re a fool in love
Sometimes you’re the Louisville slugger
Sometimes you’re the ball
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you’re going lose it all
-Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits, “The Bug”
Is this all you can hope for in life?
When working toward a goal, most people jump straight to action or strategy. Sometimes it works out, and often it doesn’t.
When it doesn’t work out, the tendency is to feel like the bug being squashed on the windshield… like life is being done to you… like things are never working out for you… like you’re a failure.
What if you’re not a failure after all? What if you’re just missing a couple crucial steps?
At Growth-U, we understand that there are no guarantees in life… that life happens.
We also recognize that there is more control in proactively setting our intentions and knowing our reasons behind them, BEFORE taking the action required to reach our goals.
O.P.A. stands for Outcome-Purpose-Action. It’s about proactively setting your desired Outcome before every encounter, be it a meeting, an interview, an email, or a major speaking engagement.
It is your desired destination, which you enter into the GPS navigation of your unconscious mind. Your mind is looking for a destination at all times.
When you don’t select one consciously, you may find yourself rerouting back to a previous destination by default.
Your Purpose –your WHY– gives you the motivation to follow through on your outcome, despite possible challenges, which are usually present even if you’ve thought of everything.
In fact, challenges help you reach your destination with determination and even creativity.
Only then do you follow through with inspired Action to provide the best positive outcome possible.
O.P.A. is in contrast to most people’s programming and the desire to jump straight to action with no GPS or WHY to guide them in the right direction. It is reactive versus proactive…. Oops!
Before you take action, it is important to know where you are headed.
Otherwise, you could end up going around in circles rather than moving toward your desired location. Even when you jump in your car to drive somewhere, you need a destination.
You wouldn’t typically start out on vacation, saying you’re going to drive for 6 hours per day in whichever direction and see where it gets you… well, you could and it might not be very satisfying!
Your vision, or outcome, lays the foundation for that satisfying experience. It’s inputting the destination into your GPS so that you are proactively choosing where you want to go.
You get to choose what stops you might like along the way, and how long you take. You are in control of your journey, even if there are small detours like construction or an accident along the way.
Your GPS vision provides the target even when you’re in the thick of the journey, and the destination isn’t completely clear.
This is also where belief comes in. It’s like driving at night and only being able to see as far as your headlights allow you. You know the road is continuing there even if you can’t see it at the moment.
You don’t just hope that it is, or have faith that it is. Just as you know the sun is rising every morning, you need to know that you can reach your outcome destination. If it is midnight, you don’t have to see the light of dawn to know it is coming.
Let’s apply this to a typically anxiety-provoking issue, like your career.
You have a huge job interview in 30 minutes. You REALLY want this job because it is more money, closer to home, and is something you really feel you would enjoy.
You can go in hoping for the best, and say you’ll give it your best shot. However, there is doubt interlaced with that.
On the other hand, you can set your outcome for the interview as if it already happened: “I aced the interview. They love me and offered me the job, with top dollar and benefits, starting immediately.”
When you state the outcome in the past tense, your unconscious mind responds as if it is an actual memory and moves forward in kind.
You proactively set your Outcome to bolster your belief and set a positive tone for the upcoming session.
You are giving your unconscious GPS a positive focus. This, in turn, is putting you in the best state possible for the interview, which translates externally into an appearance of confidence to the interview committee.
Once you have your destination programmed into your GPS, it’s important to know WHY you’re taking the journey. This makes your life journey meaningful, AND it provides the leverage to keep going when the going gets tough.
Your WHY makes every challenge worthwhile. You understand that every experience is a learning experience and stepping stone to where you want to be.
Your Outcome and Purpose are the groundwork for the creative process of your life.
Once your creative groundwork is laid, you can then take inspired Action rather than having knee-jerk reactions to life.
You know your clear target and why you want it so that you know exactly what actions are needed to achieve it.
You can then confidently set out, knowing that you can check your results as you go and make adjustments as needed.
If you experience a setback, your purpose pushes you back on track. When you set your outcome and purpose, your actions become an intentional masterpiece in creating your life.
You are no longer the tail being wagged by the dog; you are the dog wagging its tail.
When you intentionally set your O.P.A. for every experience, no matter how small, you are taking control over your life… perhaps for the very first time. You lose your victim story.
Life can be fun and creative again.
We are all inherently gifted in our own way. However, when you are stressed, anxious and feeling victimized by life, it’s hard to see your inner genius, let alone let it out to play.
Your O.P.A.’s provide the confidence and safety to explore your capability and potential–much like a toddler venturing further from his parents as he gains more confidence.
“Your entire life consists of the present moment.”
Life happens. There are always going to be curveballs. The Greeks have the right attitude of celebrating life, despite the setbacks.
And even challenges are what make life interesting.
Rather than stressing and feeling overwhelmed, you can take control by proactively setting your Outcome-Purpose-Action for your large vision, for important events like interviews, and for even small items like emails.
Have fun with it, and consciously cultivate an attitude of gratitude, especially in areas where you haven’t been happy before.
Just as tomorrow never comes, life is about happily achieving on the journey because all you have is the present moment.
So if you’re still thrown a curveball you miss, yell “Opa!” and get back to setting your O.P.A.’s.