Regardless of how much planning we do, sometimes our plan gets sidetracked. Something or someone interferes. We may be working toward a particular goal and find obstacles that move the goalpost further away. As an old adage reminds us: Man Plans, and God Laughs.
When plans don’t go our way, it’s easy to become frustrated, dispirited, and sad. Our disappointment can affect our outlook and efforts, and we can feel powerless.
This is when we need to pay particular attention to our thoughts so that we can regain calm and carry on. We may wonder, “Should I give up? Why is this happening? Is all this hard work for nothing? What now?”
We can train ourselves to deal with setbacks. With intention, we can process what is happening, and determine what, if anything, we need to do next.
First, “be” with the surprise/disappointment. Sit with the feelings and thoughts of frustration in the moment. Our emotions can provide insight about what is important to us. We give ourselves time to let our emotions evolve and then we can begin to accept / adapt to the situation. This can motivate us to move beyond “dwelling,” “worrying,” “ruminating.” Instead, we can decide to create awareness around our emotions.
Determine what is next. The sooner we stop dwelling, the better able we are to think clearly about what seems to be a setback and examine the choices that remain and determine our next steps. Although we may feel like giving up altogether, we can take a few breaths, process what happened, and then “hit our reset button.” Then, our thinking may be clearer and we can focus on our options, paying close attention to the best way to proceed. We can talk to a close friend or family member, take time to journal or reflect, and decide the best alternative to get us closer to our goals.
Be realistic about expectations. We can minimize frustration when we try to manage expectations from the outset. It is helpful to remember that sometimes things do not work out the way we had hoped. But we can change our attitude if we cannot change the circumstances. Some things are out of our control and learning from what we have rather than what we wish we had helps us to stay focused and positive. Life is a series of experiences: expected and unexpected. Carrying on is the goal. Howe we do it is our choice.