“NOW WHAT?” Ever had to ask that big question? Of course, we all have at one time or another. Why, “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.” ..Robert Burns, 1786.
The whole reason we have a plan is so we know what to do. So what happens then, when things don’t go according to plan. It can be so frustrating, it can be confusing, but there are ways to recover and get back on track and that’s what this blog post is all about.
I’ve learned through the years that it wasn’t really the times of stress that got to me but my reactions to the stress. “We all have problems, the way we solve them is what makes us different.” – Unknown
Here are some helping points when things don’t go your way
1. Step back and take a time-out. Ask yourself:
- What is the Problem?
- Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
- What does this problem look like on an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
- What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
- How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?
It really doesn’t matter if the plan had to do with “what’s for dinner”, or “which courses do I need to finish for graduation” or choosing just the right business opportunity. It could have been for that particular event or a major “biggy” involving life for the future.
Regardless, If the plan is not on course as you had planned, don’t keep pushing a broken down wagon.
Sounds like time for a “time-out”, and you’d best call one and spend some time in “recovery”.
2. Vent if you have to but don’t linger on the problem
However, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may give temporary relief, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire. Take a deep breath and get back to solving the problem.
3. Realize there are others out there facing this too.
Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Realizing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.
4. Process your thoughts and emotions with any of these three methods:
- Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done. This one may not apply to messed up dinner plans.
- Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
- Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t. To many, this involves the Bible and being alone with God.
4. Consider why things didn’t go according to plan.
You need to know not only “what happened?”, but also how can you prevent it from happening in the future. The only way to come up with a better plan is figure what happened to the “perfect plan” you had from the start
Compare how things went with how things were expected to go.
5. This step of recovery is huge – Input From Others.
It’s time to go outside of yourself and bring in the troops. Listening carefully to “outside input” is the key element to recovery.
Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.
If you’re doing something alone, try explaining the situation to a trusted outside party to see if they can give you a fresh perspective you have not considered.
If it was a team project, ask the others what they think went wrong and what should happen next. Listen to them carefully. This can be valuable to the recovery process.
6. Time to formulate a new plan
You stepped back, took a time-out, considered things yourself, gathered input from others, and begin working on what is commonly known as – “plan B”.
Where can you go from here, how can you get to where you’re going.
Make absolutely sure you account for the things that went wrong with the former plan so you can be better prepared to deal with road bumps in the future.
7. That time was a learning experience, now you have several back up plans.
This time we’re going to even consider things that might go wrong, but won’t necessarily happen. With the back up plans in place, we won’t have to take time to stop and come up with a new plan from scratch. You can move on to Plan B or C smoothly.
In conclusion, see the whole experience as an obstacle that had to be overcome.
As Helen Keller once said,
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”
Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there will always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way.
These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t.
If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future. Go ahead and ask, “Now What?”, but please don’t just scratch your head and leave it there. Learn from what went wrong. Take action immediately to overcome the obstacle by taking all these steps to overcome whatever went awry.