When Well-Laid Plans Fall Apart

3 Steps When Life Doesn't Go as Intended

When Well-Laid Plans Fall Apart

Picture this; you have this big thing in your life coming up and it is going to be glorious. You have it all planned out and have pictured how it will go in your head just shy of one million times. It is all you can think about and you are so ready for it to happen you could burst!

And then…something changes or gets in the way of your perfectly imagined outcome. That is how life goes…no matter how much you wish for, dream of, or manifest the outcome, life rarely works out exactly as expected. And, the more emotional stock you have in a specific outcome, the more you will be derailed by the unexpected.

Taking the following steps will help you stay on track when something doesn’t go as planned.

Step 1: Grieve

This might seem dramatic depending on the situation, but regardless of the disappointment you are dealing with, you will likely have some uncomfortable feelings to navigate. A wedding, graduation, birth of a child, vacation, reunion with an old friend, job promotion, romantic night with your partner, or how a new piece of clothing from an online order will fit; these are all things that could derail you. So, give yourself permission to grieve. Honor your feelings of disappointment, hurt, regret, anger, disbelief and shock. Allow those feelings to be a part of your experience.

You can sit with your feelings, investigate their origin and intensity, and validate yourself in experiencing them; or you can deny them and pretend like nothing is wrong. They will be there whether you acknowledge them or not—recognizing them will take away their power and allow you to move through them without creating more pain.

Step 2: Investigate

Now that you've allowed yourself to experience your emotions rather than stuffing and denying them, it is time to investigate and explore them.

  • Why are these emotions so intensely connected to this experience of your event not going as planned?
  • What meaning did you attach to the event and what meaning are you attaching to its derailment?
  • Did your event signify accomplishment and now that it is gone; do you feel as though all your hard work was for nothing?
  • Was this event with your partner an attempt at reconnection after a long time of feeling as though things have gone cold; and this confirms that maybe you two won’t make it after all?
  • Does the birth of your child signify your worth as a mom or how all your beautiful plans went south; are you questioning if you are really meant to do this?

Take time, dig deep, and try to understand why and how this change of plans affects you. This step is the hardest because it takes self-reflection and insights on things we may have been trying to turn a blind eye to.  If you can't get through this step alone, consider turning to a partner, friend or professional who can help you wade through the mucky waters.

Step 3: Allow yourself to get excited about something new while remaining realistic.

You may want to decide you no longer care about outcomes and pretend to be a carefree and a “go with the flow” kind of person. Maybe you are! But if you are not it is okay to get excited and dream about the “next thing.”  Plan, dream and manifest; AND be prepared for your plans to change. The goal is not to be only logical and rational, but to mix in the emotion that comes with being human. This gives you the best of both worlds—the excitement you long for and preparation for the “and then…”


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Dakota Family Services

This content was reviewed by the mental health clinicians at Dakota Family Services, a group of compassionate, practiced experts providing outpatient care for children, adolescents, and adults with behavioral health concerns.

Dakota Family Services is a highly trusted and respected outpatient clinic providing psychology, psychiatry, and therapy in North Dakota. Our community of compassionate mental health professionals help children, adolescents, and adults improve their overall mental health and well-being through a personalized approach, trusted expertise, and unconditional presence. We offer in-office counseling in Fargo and Minot and online therapy for those who prefer to meet from the comfort of their own home. To schedule an appointment, or to learn more, call 800-201-6495.