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In life, things don’t always go as planned. Sometimes, it’s the little things like Taco Bell’s inside restaurant being closed and the drive-thru is an hour-long wait due to social distancing. Sometimes, it’s something big like your child having an unexpected surgery, canceling your vacation due to social distancing, or losing your job. Things don’t always go as planned.
When things don’t go as planned, there is some uncertainty. When there is uncertainty, it can be easy for your brain to freak out. It likes things to go like they have in the past. When there’s uncertainty, you also feel like you aren’t in control because you didn’t see it coming and didn’t plan for it.
First and foremost, know life isn’t certain. There will always be changes and things not going as planned. This is totally normal. You will have to work through the unplanned changes and possibly pivot.
This Easter, I was so excited for my children to get their Easter baskets. Even though I knew Easter would be different due to social distancing, I thought it would still be amazing. I imagined it all in my head, the children would wake up, get their baskets, we would eat a homemade breakfast, followed by the children playing all day with their toys without arguing. I dreamed up a pretty peaceful Easter.
What really happened: the kids got up, looked at the baskets for about 5 seconds, wanted their tablets, started arguing and being whiney, and promptly forgot about the Easter baskets. Wow, definitely not the reaction I was expecting. Okay, time to move to plan B.
Plan B had to be created on the spot. I had to remind myself that my children are toddlers. Plan B turned into my children playing with their tablets off and on and my husband and I relaxing most of the day. Not too bad. LOL!
When things don’t go as planned, it can make you spin out, it can make you think you are a bad mom, wife, person, etc. It can put you in a bad mood if what you were thinking would happen didn’t.
Here are some steps to take the next time you start to get upset or spin out when something didn’t go as planned:
1. Write it down
Do a thought download. A thought download is where you get everything in your head onto paper. The good and the bad. Nothing is off-limits. Just get it out of your head and onto paper. This is so helpful.
2. Examine your thoughts
Look at your thought download. Are any of these thoughts actually true? Look at them with kindness, compassion, and curiosity. It really helps to know what you are thinking. Sometimes, just knowing what you are thinking is enough to change your thoughts.
The first time I did this, I realized why I was experiencing negative emotions all of the time. Every single thought on the paper was negative.
Your thoughts matter because they create your feelings.
3. Target solutions
There is always a solution to everything. When you think there isn’t a solution, keep looking. There is ALWAYS something to be done.
Here is an example:
You are craving Taco Bell. The drive-thru is crowded, but you don’t want to unload the car to take your whole family into the restaurant to order. You can have several solutions:
A). First is decide whether you stay in line or try another restaurant
B). Turn on the TV in the car for the kids to have some entertainment
C). Listen to their favorite CD and sing along
D). Call that friend/family member you have been meaning to call
E). Create a fun game to play with the kids like I Spy
F). Listen to a podcast
G). Scroll Instagram
There are a million possibilities.
You can learn to be flexible and target solutions. Put your brain to work. If you don’t know how, just keep asking your brain how until it comes up with an answer.
Ex: You need to figure out how to trim $50 from your budget and you think you have exhausted all of your options. Ask yourself: How can I find $50 to cut from my budget or how can I make $50 more each month to cover this shortage?
4. Find the positive
There is ALWAYS something positive to be thankful for.
One way you can get to think positively about the situation is to ask yourself what does XYZ make possible?
Like what does Coronavirus make possible?
- It gives you tons of uninterrupted time with your family.
- It brings to light things that stress you out that you could start working on.
- You can be more resourceful with cooking dinner with what you have on hand.
- You can learn to budget.
- You can watch that TV show you have been wanting to.
- You can finally start that devotional you purchased from Amazon months ago.
5. Remember life is 50/50
In life, it is always 50% bad and 50% good. There is ALWAYS going to be good and bad. There isn’t anything we can do about it. We don’t want to be blissed out and happy 24/7 because then will we even know what happiness is? Probably not. Bad things happen as do good things.
There will always be positive and negative things happening. You will always have a positive and negative emotion. That’s okay. It doesn’t mean something has gone wrong. That’s how the world works.
When things don’t go as planned, it can be an opportunity for you to grow. It can turn out to be a good thing or a blessing in disguise. Right after I got married, I tried to find a new job. I wanted to change career paths, but I still applied for jobs in the field I was in at the time. I went on tons of interviews for months. I got turned down at jobs I knew I was qualified for. I was dumbfounded.
Little did I know, the job I did get ended up being the best for me at the time because it was flexible. A couple of years into the new job, I had a daughter who was born with special needs and I needed to have a flexible job with all of her appointments.
God is always in control and knows about everything before it happens. Just because something didn’t go as planned, does NOT mean it wasn’t a positive change. Sometimes it’s for the best. Sometimes things not going as planned is an opportunity for growth, and to learn to pivot and find another solution.