Dealing with unexpected circumstances

Things don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes it’s your own fault. Sometimes it’s not. While you don’t always have control over what happens, you do have control over how you respond, mentally and physically. Here are my thoughts on a good way to respond to an unexpected turn of events.

First off, beating yourself up or having purely negative thoughts is never the correct response. There’s a difference between being realistic and being downright negative. You don’t have to be happy that things didn’t work out, but do try to keep your thoughts constructive.

Ask yourself if there’s something you could have done to prevent this from happening. If so, make note of it. It might be a good idea to add it to a checklist that you refer to anytime you make a plan, to prevent re-making mistakes you’ve already made in the past.

If you don’t see any reasonable way you could have avoided it, just let it go. Every thought spent on something you have no control over is a thought lost on something you can influence. If you’re having trouble letting it go, try meditating if you’re into that, or read/watch some inspirational material to give your thoughts a nudge in the other direction.

Once you’re able to let go of any guilt or regret(with practice this can be done in seconds), the next step is to determine if the plan is still salvageable. If you decide that it is, immediately get to work revising your plan to take the new circumstances into account. Consider if the “problem” is something that could actually be used to approach the original goal from an angle you hadn’t considered before. One of my favorite mantras is “think in solutions, not problems”.

If the issue is so Earth-shattering that it completely derails the whole project, then the above advice still applies regarding letting go of things that couldn’t have been avoided. However, give yourself extra time to recoup mentally if needed, and just do your best to relax for a week or so and see if another idea or opportunity doesn’t come along. Keep in mind that one “failure” or negative outcome doesn’t make you any less likely to succeed at your next attempt, so don’t carry the disappointment into your next project.

Moving on to another project doesn’t have to mean giving up on the previous project altogether. If you can’t see a way past the current block in your project, starting a new one, networking with people, and learning new skills may lead you to the solution to the original problem down the road.

Life is full of unexpected twists. It may help to remind yourself that you’re not alone, and everyone else has to deal with their plans falling apart at times too. Also remind yourself that you’ve always come through in the end, and so far you’ve beaten(or at least survived) every challenge life has ever sent your way. Expect the unexpected and enjoy the ride.

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