Can you relate to scenarios like these? You wake up to pouring rain on the day you’ve promised to take the kids to their favorite amusement park; a big project lands on your desk an hour before you’re supposed to go home and have dinner with your spouse; you walk outside on a beautiful Saturday morning, coffee and book in hand, and the sump pump breaks down and water fills your basement. Life throws more than its fair share of unexpected or unwanted events into the mix and it’s hard not to feel deflated in these moments.
But you know what matters more than the wrench in your plans? Your reaction. We know, we know, you’ve heard it before, but seriously, what if you put a plan into place for how to react when something goes awry? Try out a few of these ideas for rolling with life’s punches and you’ll find that most things aren’t as bad as they seem.
Move on. There’s a quote floating around, “When something goes wrong in your life just yell, ‘Plot twist!’ and move on.” What a great way to react! Don’t dwell on whatever has gone wrong, acknowledge your frustration and move forward. Stewing on something will never change it.
Change your perspective. Is it really as bad as it seems? Take a moment to reflect on what happened (or didn’t happen) and see if there is another way of looking at it. For example, instead of letting the rain cancel your plans for a fun day at the amusement park, pick up ponchos for everyone and declare the day an adventure!
Grab the good. You can likely find a silver lining in any situation. Yes, that huge unexpected project has put a damper on your evening—or even next few weeks—but instead, look at it as another opportunity to show your worth and to position yourself well for your annual review. Condition yourself to move right on past the bad and focus on the positive.
“Plan” ahead for changes. This doesn’t mean you should plan for things to go wrong—just acknowledge that no matter what you’ve set in place, it could change, right down to the last second. When you are dead-set on high expectations for what could or should happen, it can be quite devastating when things don’t pan out as you wished. You can wind up spending (wasting) a lot of precious time being upset or creating unnecessary drama. If you teach yourself—and your kids—to think of plans and expectations as loose guidelines for how things may go, you will all be less susceptible to disappointment if something changes.
Smile. Laugh. Hug someone! Sometimes things can just plain stink and there might not be another way to spin it. Instead of allowing it to ruin your day, do something to boost your mood. Blast your favorite tunes while you deal with the mess and make the most of it. No one wants to deal with a busted sump pump, but you can shift your mood—and the mood of everyone around you—by finding some way to laugh about it and get through it.
Try one of these tips the next time a twist in the road really sours your plans and then keep it going. Over time these reactions will develop into habits and you’ll find that life is much easier than you thought.