What to do when things don’t go as planned

It is this time of year – about 40+ days after January came in like a bulldog, full of promise and hope – where we realize things don’t go as planned as often as we’d like.  And that can feel depressing, or leave you feeling dejected.

Resolutions fall by the wayside. Goals get a little muddied and unclear. We get sick.  We feel tired. And we fall off track. Where we thought we might be at this time into the new year, is in fact not where we are.

It almost makes you want to curse January because of it. I mean, who does January think she is to make such big promises to you for your life moving forward? All the hope she instills for how perfectly things will run.from.now.on. How dare she encourage you to make resolutions only to leave you feeling flat a month later? {I, of course, I don’t quite agree with Miss January on making resolutions but that’s another blog post.}

Life isn’t ever perfectly in place. And that is actually good news.

The bad news is that it is often difficult to accept what is in life, as it is, to keep moving forward.

What to do when things don't go as planned

When things don’t go as planned, and we don’t accept exactly where we are, we are stifled. Stopped in our tracks. Unmotivated. Perhaps feel like we’re under water.

We spend most of our lives underwater. Every so often our head clears the surface and we look around and get our bearings. Then, blip!, back down we go again. In the moments we get our bearings, we think “Oh my God! Look how endlessly trustworthy life is! Look at the God-given, godly nature of simple things!”  Thomas Merton

Life is wrought with dips and near drownings. And I have come to see those a blessing of sorts. They have a purpose and serve to help me become more. And allow me to appreciate better, perhaps, the highs. That dip is actually par for the course. It is one way to help in the appreciation of what is.

When things don’t go as planned here are a few things you can do:


My mother, who is an amazing motivational humorist speaker always says that when you aren’t feeling great, perhaps you are off track, you should smile. Like literally look in the mirror and smile – because someone is smiling back! {Genius, right?} And smile you get back can turn your whole day around. Even if you aren’t feeling like a smile, if you fake a smile you reap the physiological positive benefits of it. Dopamine and endorphins get released whether you fake it or mean it. So when things don’t go as planned, smile.


The day moves fast.  Life moves fast, and pausing, quite literally, during the day is your best chance of quieting the noise and slowing the train. Without it, we get pulled under. And if it happens a lot we can certainly feel as though more time than not is spent underwater. So when things don’t go as planned, take time to stop. Meditate. Simply breathe.


Life is all about adjustments and being prepared, not for perfection, but for the curve balls that are often thrown. If you pause long enough, you can refocus. You can make tiny changes towards goals and step by step you will make progress to getting back on track. So when things don’t go as planned adjust your focus and create a new plan.


Just like you do in January, you should do in March or September, or next Tuesday.  Look at where you have come, where you want to go. Ask yourself what you need to do to get there. What will make you jump out of bed in the morning and attack the day with vigor? That question can be quite motivating. So when things don’t go as planned, take some time to remember your successes, and realign yourself with your goals – especially the ones that make you feel ready for the day.

When things don't always go as planned

Be grateful.

Nothing grounds you more, or keeps you above water more consistently than gratitude! Find time to literally show gratitude for the fact that you are alive, and above ground. Show gratitude to others whether with a thank you …or a smile. Those alone can be the lifesaver someone else needs to stay up.  That giving of your self makes you feel better. And can really remind you that life is filled with simplicity, waiting for you to use it in your quest to enjoy life to the fullest. So when things don’t go as planned, note what you are grateful for. And take some time to make someone, including yourself, feel better.

That can really help you get back on track.

And stay above water longer.

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