How to Cope When Things Don’t Go as Planned

We talk about, read about, and learn success stories around the world. But how  often do you look closely at the good coming from not achieving what you initially wanted?

Not getting what you want is part and parcel of life, which also helps you strategise ways that will ultimately allow you to reach your goal and meet expectations. When this happens, make sure to introspect with a clear and focused approach.

It’s normal to feel a sense of disappointment because we have expectations. But it is extremely important to reason with our expectations. 

Here are a few steps to consider when you feel like things aren’t panning out the way you wanted. 

1) Keep a cool mind

Take a moment for yourself and breathe. You have the right to be upset and express your emotions, but sometimes we end up taking harsh decisions while we are hurt. You might feel like the situation has slipped out of your hands, but it’s the panic and stress that’s making you think that way. We all experience roadblocks but sometimes it’s best to take time off the situation and calm yourself. Go for a walk, watch a movie, talk to someone close but keep your mind off the worries.

2)    Acknowledge the loss

Now that you have calmed down, accept that life tends to go out of control from time to time, and is unpredictable. You need to move forward or else you will be stuck in the loop of fighting hopelessly against reality. Changing the situation and the outcome is not possible, but we can always change the way we react to it.

3) Assess

Start looking at the outcome of that particular situation through an objective standpoint. Instead of blaming yourself or others, focus on seeing what went wrong. Look through a neutral approach. Write down the pros and cons of the situation, and why your expectations were not met successfully. Evaluate both, the good and bad. This way you are the sole person who can judge your own standing and plan your next move accordingly. This method of writing down your pros and cons will give you the ability to read your situation in a positive way.

4)    Adapt

Adaptation and resilience are the ideal solutions when things go amiss. Once you look at your pros and cons, you must challenge yourself from falling into a trap of unpleasant thoughts. Although a certain event may not meet your expectations, you should continue working towards achieving your goals. You might find yourself thinking ‘I always fail’ or ‘Why does this happen to me?’. Instead, try telling yourself - ‘Things might not always go the way I want, but I should keep trying’.

5) Make a decision

This is the part where you strategize your way forward. You have three ways to go about making your decision. Based on your pros and cons list, you can either:

i. Continue on the same path to reach the desired outcome, but this time work even harder to achieve the goal.

ii. Change the route that you take to reach your goal, i.e. finding a different plan or approach to get the desired outcome.

iii. Sometimes our expectations of certain goals change when we introspect. Introspection makes us realise things we want to seek and achieve.

6) Never giving up

Life is all about taking risks and achieving them through trial and error. We make mistakes, some on our own, some beyond our control. Owning up to those mistakes is good, but dwelling on them will lead to slow poisoning of our mental peace. Mistakes should be seen as experiments gone wrong, with a scope for improvement. They open us up to learning opportunities and encourage us to try out new things. They prepare you for the next stage. Life is not about giving up on your dreams, especially if you believe they are realistic and can be achieved.

7)    Explore

Restate your goals if you believe in them. There is no one surefire method to achieve them. People find inspiration and insight in every sphere of their lives. Each activity that occurs has a scope for learning hidden inside it. It is up to you to decide if you are willing to see it and learn from it. Widen your options and your horizons, because if one plan doesn’t pan out, another one may work in your favour.

8) Stop comparing yourself to others

Being inspired and motivated by other people positively impacts your personal development. You must always work towards becoming a better version of yourself, by trusting yourself and your capabilities. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and respect the decisions taken by you. We often tend to start looking at ourselves through the lens of others.

9) Ask for help

Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves to be independent, that we forget there are people willing to help us. Friends, family, and mentors who are willing to act as guiding lights, ready to face the situation with us. Try maintaining the good relationships that you have, that will help you feel secure when things go wrong.

As human beings, we should never restrain ourselves from talking to people who value us. They have a better vantage point in assessing the situation and helping you with valuable inputs.

10)  Stay positive- Stick to your values

Being optimistic is the key, so always remember your values and your principles shouldn’t be compromised. No situation is permanent, there is always a way out, so try to find the positives in any outcome, no matter how disappointing it may seem.

Things may seem disappointing, and the situation may seem like it's slipping out of your hands, but remember to toss out the old expectations, rework on them, and bring out a more informed version of your plan, to achieve your goals. Change the ‘What ifs’ and ‘Why didn’t I’ to ‘I am going to approach the situation in a positive and realistic way’.

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