When Life Doesn't Turn Out As Planned

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just sit down and plot out our lives like planning a vacation and be able to trust that every detail would go as planned? Sometimes I think it would be. Sometimes I think surprises are overrated...even the good ones. I’d be willing to give up the good ones if I could avoid the bad ones.

The last twelve months of my life have been a whirlwind of ups and downs including beautifully unexpected blessings and the most gut wrenching betrayals and heartbreaks. I’ve spilled more tears this year than ever before, and I know I’m not alone since most people I talk to express some form of the sentiment, “This has been the worst year ever.” Depression has been on the rise around the world, and hope has been in short supply.

Life is definitely not going as planned. The future I hoped for, worked for, and dreamed about is no more. Can you identify? Has your life ever taken a wrong turn and left you stranded?

What can we do when all our best options have been stolen by circumstances beyond our control or negated by the selfish choices of others? I wish I could say I have all the answers, but I don’t. I can only offer some suggestions which have been helpful to me.

Sometimes speaking with a counselor can help. (I should know. I was one.) Other times, meeting with a spiritual advisor can bring the peace and guidance you seek. Admitting your real feelings to someone is a step in the right direction.

Another helpful suggestion is to stay away from those who would feed your negativity. Instead, seek out people who remind you to look for and focus on the good. There are always things to be thankful for, even when we don’t want to acknowledge them. Push yourself to rise above and spend more focusing on and expressing gratitude for those things which are positive.

Finally, don’t be afraid to admit when you need help. Even counselors need counselors sometimes (perhaps even more so than “normal” people). At the very least, find one accountability partner who will check on you and encourage you and call you out on your pity parties. While a perfectly planned life that never goes off the rails isn’t possible, a little forethought and a few accountability measures set in place can make a world of difference.

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