There are many of us who work hard to plan things out. We may plan to go to school, find a job, find a mate, buy a house, start a family, and live happily ever after. But you know what they say about the best laid plans. Unfortunately, for many of us (most of us), life doesn’t really go according to our plan.
For some people the deviations from what we thought would be, and what actually is, are taken in stride. Maybe you had kids before you bought the house, or had to postpone finishing school to work and earn money. Life happens and we keep going. But for others of us these deviations, even the thought of them, can derail us and create the type of mental havoc that leads to poor decision making.
When The Plan Isn’t Working
Knowing what you want and creating a pathway for getting it is a great idea in most cases. Yet having the flexibility and resilience to deal with things when they don’t go your way is a very different thing. So what should you do when your straight line from point A to point Z becomes crooked? Check out these tips for coping with life when it doesn’t go your way.
• Think about your goal. Things have changed and your plan isn’t working they way you intended. Welcome to life! When this happens take some time to consider what it really was that your goal was leading you to. Can you still get there? Is it off the table now? Do you really still want the same thing you did when you made your plan? Answering these questions can help you focus on what to do next. In many cases, once you have reevaluated your goal you will likely realize you can still achieve it.
• Consider new paths. Your goal may not have changed, but in many cases how you get there may need to. That’s okay – there are many roads to the same destination. If life has thrown you a curveball, or your steps have gone out of order, take some time to reorder them and set a new path.
• Reset priorities. We always hear that things happen for a reason. That may or may not be true, but one thing that is certain is that as life changes, so do our priorities. What we thought was the most important thing when were 20 is almost certainly not what we think is the most important thing at 40. This may not mean that your goal has changed, or what you want out of life, but where you focus your time and energy may have shifted because your priorities have shifted.
• Recognize all versions of happiness. Maybe you thought that being CEO of a Fortune 500 company was what would make you happy. But if that isn’t where you are, that doesn’t mean you aren’t (or can’t be) happy. Happiness comes in many forms and it’s important to recognize and enjoy it whenever you can.
• Keep going. Just because your life isn’t going according to plan doesn’t mean you should throw the plan out. Becoming stagnant or giving up on what you want isn’t the solution. Reset, revise, and keep moving forward to whatever your goal may be.
To Plan Or Not To Plan
There are those that might argue that planning more than a few weeks into the future is a futile effort. They will claim that it’s smarter to go with the flow because there are too many variables and it’s better to live in the moment than to always be focused on the future.
There is some wisdom in this thought process. Getting so focused on what you think you need to do can lead to making decisions that checks boxes rather than ones that lead to satisfaction and happiness. Take, for instance, the person who feels like they need to get married and start a family. It’s part of their plan and if they don’t do it by a certain age everything will be thrown off. So, rather than taking the time to make sure a relationship is the right one and built on the right foundation, they get married to the most convenient and first available partner and start a family. Very often in this situation, once the box is checked and they have time to reflect, they realize that they aren’t really satisfied and may have married the wrong person.The result more often than not is a divorce and broken family – something that was definitely NOT part of the plan.
The flipside of planning, however, is the person who flies by the seat of their pants, never completely sure what they want or how to get there. Without spending time thinking about life and what they want out of it they are more likely to end up in situations that are dissatisfying and never really feel like they achieved what they wanted in life.
The most important thing to remember is that you can’t control everything, and even the best thought out plans will have challenges and go off track. This doesn’t mean your life is ruined and you will never be happy. It just means that you need to revise your plan.