How to Adjust when Things Don't Go to Plan

Three Parts:Being FlexibleAssessing Your OptionsCoping with Change

So things didn't go as planned, and what do you do now? Be patient. Know that the situation can get better and there are alternatives. By learning to adapt, you can feel more in control. Take the next steps to find out options available outside of your original plans. Avoid dwelling on what went wrong and focus on how you can change things for the better.

Part 1
Being Flexible

  1. 1
    Keep your cool. Take a moment to breathe and calm yourself. We all experience roadblocks in life, and things don't always go according to plan. Avoid being hard on yourself or others. Getting upset will like not make the situation any easier. Take a step back for a moment.[1]
    • Consider getting some distance from the situation for 30 minutes, 1 hour, or a day. Take a walk. Get a drink of water. Distract yourself with something positive.
    • Come back to the situation when you're able to be patient and calm.
  2. 2
    Assess what went wrong. Think about the situation from an objective standpoint. Avoid blaming yourself or others. Try to clearly see what happened.
    • Your judgment may be clouded by negative emotions or stress. Instead listen to others that have a more objective view. Take a neutral approach.
    • Your assessment should be based on the pros and cons of the situation. Evaluate both the good and the bad. Consider writing down the pros and cons of the event.
  3. 3
    Accept what you can and cannot control. Some things are simply out of our control. For example, if you made plans to travel for the weekend, and a storm hits, things may not go as planned. There are forces outside of yourself that influence and shape outcomes.[2]
    • Avoid dwelling on things that you can't change, and focus on what you can.
    • Think about how you can be a solution to a problem.
  4. 4
    Learn to adapt. Adaptation is key when things go awry. It is part of our evolution as people to learn to adapt to our environments. The more flexible you are in your plans the more likely your expectations of what you wanted will be met.[3]
    • Life is not a straight and easy path. It is filled with twists and turns. Each day we are learning how to adapt to our daily lives and challenges.
    • For example, imagine how you get to school or work. While there may be one specific way you do this, imagine the other possibilities available. Some routes may be easier and shorter, others may be longer or harder. But they still arrive at the same destination.

Part 2
Assessing Your Options

  1. 1
    Explore what your expectations were. Sometimes we get frustrated when things don't go according to plan because they don't meet our expectations. Think about the expectations you had for the situation. Think about if your expectations may have been too strict or rigid.[4]
    • One plan or goal is not a measure of your worth. Just because things didn't work out this time, that doesn't mean they will never work out in the future.
    • For example, you and your friends wanted to go to a special restaurant, and you find out it's closed. You may be disappointed or upset because you were expecting a nice meal there. Instead of thinking that the only good meal is at this one restaurant, evaluate the other places available.
  2. 2
    Restate your goal. Since your original plan hasn't come through, return to your original mission or goal for the situation. You likely had a brainstorming phases about your goals and expectations. Go back to that moment.[5]
    • Talk about your goal again with those involved.
    • Consider writing down your original goal. Putting the situation in writing, particularly for bigger plans, can help to solidify what your goal is.
    • Use this goal as a framework to restate and reimagine your alternative plans.
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    Think about the options available. So your original plan hasn't worked out? Now is the time to think about the other options available. What is your Plan B or Plan C? If you don't have an alternative plan in place, then evaluate other options to consider. [6]
    • Gather information about other options available. Consider writing down the other options available, and making a list of pros and cons.
    • Reassess the strategies and possible outcomes to your plans. Talk with others involved in the process--friends, family, co-workers. See if they may have additional ideas.
    • While these alternatives may not be your original plan, one or more of them may turn out as good as the original.
  4. 4
    Make a decision about next steps. Take action. Be clear about next steps you're taking. Avoid feeling defeated, as if the original plan was the best or only one available. Approach this next phase feeling positive and hopeful rather than negative.[7]
    • Be confident in your decision once you've evaluated the different options available.

Part 3
Coping with Change

  1. 1
    Use the past for guidance rather than regret. The past is just that, the past. While you can't take back what has happened, you can use this experience as a helpful tool. Think about how the best and the worst of the situation for you or others you care about. What can you or others learn from this?[8]
    • For example, let's say you're working an important project with a small team. Maybe the project is bigger than expected, and more time consuming than you thought? So the team ends ends up rushing to complete the project and it seems to you like the project is failing.
    • This could be an opportunity to understand when to ask for additional help. Maybe you and the team could take a different approach to the project? Maybe the project isn't as bad as it seems because you had too high expectations?
    • While this is all in hindsight, it's important to see what happens next as a way to grow.
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    Avoid giving up. When something doesn't go the way you'd like, you may feel like you've failed. Avoid seeing yourself with hate, and instead focus on what you are thankful for. Resilience is key to keeping yourself motivated.[9].
    • Giving up means giving into your own self-doubts.
    • Reframe your negative thoughts by thinking about the good things that have happened. Even if they are small things.
    • For example, if you were hoping to get an A on an exam and instead got a C, think about how you can look at the bigger picture. Maybe this is your only C on an exam this semester? Maybe this isn't the only test for the class so you can study harder on the other exams? Maybe the other students all got Cs on the exam too?
  3. 3
    Learn from mistakes. Life is trial and error. Some mistakes are our own, and some are those of others or simply forces beyond our control. Own up to your mistakes, but avoid dwelling in them. When you are honest with yourself, then you can learn to grow and become better.
    • Mistakes are learning opportunities. They can push you to the invisible boundaries of what's possible and what's not.
    • When you try new things, it's possible you'll make mistakes. This is part of life. It can make you stronger and more prepared for the next time.
    • Consider saying to yourself, "I know that I messed up, but it's not the end of the world" or "I can learn from this. I can be better. I can be ready for the next time."
  4. 4
    Ask for help. There's no shame in asking for input. Talk with people that you trust about what they think about the situation. Get advice from a variety of people.[10]
    • Seeking advice can help you feel less alone with your thoughts or concerns.
    • People on the outside might have a better vantage point about what's going on.

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Categories: Creating Life Balance | Time Management & Personal Organization