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What to do when things don’t go to plan.

Woman sitting on a suitcase looking at a map in the middle of the road with fields either side.

I like to plan.

There are times when I don’t want a plan but this is planned. I call it planned spontaneity.

When I don’t know what the plan is or I’m not aware of changes, I find this frustrating and irksome. If I know what’s what I can deal with it and rearrange the plan. This is all well and good for the everyday stuff of life but not so easy when it comes to the big things. Actually I’m probably lying, changes to the small stuff can be hard for a plan lover too.

If you are of the non-planning ilk, I expect there is much eye rolling at this point. However, I think what I want to share this week is helpful, no matter your stance on plans.

A gift or an opportunity

When something goes wrong, doesn’t go to plan, or takes you in a direction you had not anticipated, how do you react?

Take a moment to think through what happened the last time you experienced this.

What was you initial reaction?

What emotions did you feel?

What did you start to do or not do?

How did it affect the rest of your day, week or month?

How would you have approached it if the first thing you thought was ‘how is this a gift or an opportunity?’

I must admit, I have only just started to try this since I learnt it during the Positive Intelligence course I undertook earlier this year (2022).

Although I am in the early stages of cultivating this new approach, it strikes me as similar to embracing curiosity and exploration, both essential ‘tools’ to dissipate fear of the unknown (and when it comes to plans going awry, the unintended) when moving through the journey of figuring out what to do next in life (see what I did there?).

So, the next time you miss the bus, order the wrong coffee, find yourself stuck in traffic or get the meeting time wrong (notice we’re starting with the small things), try pausing, breathing and then asking yourself how this could be a gift or an opportunity and notice what comes up.

By all means, apply this to the big stuff too – here it may be useful to get some trusted friends to brainstorm the gifts and opportunities with you, to really invite curiosity in.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to activate and utilise the part of your brain that serves you in this way during what you might currently view as challenging circumstances, read Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine.

Photo by unknown on Canva.