Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Ignite the Power Within Step 9: What to Do When Life Doesn't Go According to Plan

I'm a planner. Perhaps you are too. I like schedules, order, routines. Ever spend hours and hours planning a special event and then something happens that throws a monkey wrench in the whole works? It's like the Universe is saying "See, you thought you had this all under control, but you don't."

Control is an illusion. Humans like to think we are in control but we're really not. We make all sorts of plans about our futures, our kids, our direction in life. I'd like to know how many people's lives have actually gone according to their plan. Mine didn't that's for sure.

I was raised in a dysfunctional, chaotic, alcoholic home. As you can imagine, it was not the typical "Leave it to Beaver" family. When I became and an adult, I needed structure which gave me a sense of stability and control that was lacking in my childhood. One of my favorite phrases was "So here's the plan."

Yet, time after time the plan would change and then I'd say "Well, now the plan is ...". After several, ok, more than several occurrences, I realized the futility of my planning efforts. It was a hard lesson to learn and one I think I am still learning.

The reality is life doesn't always go according to plan. I don't have any statistics on this, but I'd venture to say that more times than not, life doe not go according to plan.

Stuff happens. 

We get side-tracked and blind-sided: a job loss, a relationship ends, a health crisis. We are thrown for a loop and we feel out of control and helpless. We have a choice on how to respond when life throws us a curve ball. We can stress-out and take a victim "Woe is me" mentality which will keep us from moving forward, or we can choose a more positive and proactive approach.

We can't control the circumstances of life, but there is one thing we can do and that is:

All we have to do is the next right thing.
We don't have to stress ourselves out and have it all figured out. There are too many variables that can change. Take things one step at a time. It takes time to get back on track after a major life event. 

The good news is we don't have to have a whole new plan we might only have to regroup and re-prioritize. Yes, it's good to have a vision and a goal, but we don't always have control over the steps it will take to get us there. 

Here's a short personal anecdote. I made a financial decision this week. After I did it, I realized it was a bit premature. I have been berating myself all week until the financial rep says,
"You can't time the market and when you look at it from the 60,000 foot view, it's not a big deal." 
"Kind of like life," I thought after I got off the phone.

We all make mistakes and the tendency is to beat ourselves up about it, but if we look at things from the bigger picture, the screw-up often has a lesson in it and that was the purpose of it happening in the first place. So stop stressing out when you blow it. Take a step back, relax and then go with the flow. 

Realize what is and is not in our control.
We stress ourselves out by trying to control stuff that is uncontrollable like the weather, the stock market, which team wins the game, what other people are going to say or do - you get the idea. The only thing we have some modicum of control over is ourselves and even that is limited to the degree that we are aware.

If your life hasn't gone according to plan, don't fret. Relax, take a deep breath, and remember you're not alone. We all make mistakes and the key is to learn from them. Rather than beat yourself up, be kind and gentle to yourself. We are all doing the best we know how.

I hope this post has helped see your situation from a different perspective. If you enjoyed it click the +1 icon. If you'd like to leave a comment, please do so in the box provided below this post. If you'd like to follow my bi-weekly posts, enter your email address in the box provided and I'll send you out a copy of my free e-guide "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Until next time, keep looking up!