20 Beautifully Unexpected Things That Happen When Your Plan Goes Off Course

by Chelsea Latimer

Every time I chat with someone I’ve mentally declared to “have a real grasp on life,” one common and consistent thread of wisdom seems to become clear: There are no absolutes.

The way these people once thought life would turn out took a pivot somewhere and changed the course of their lives forever.

Many of us have grown up with three very strong ideas about life:

1. We are capable of shaping and creating the lives of our dreams.

2. All of those shapes and creations would be better suited for a solid five-year-plan.

3. With hard work, visualization and intelligent preparation, our wildest dreams can become reality.

The problem is that we don’t consider the room we need for error, malfunctions, detours or simply voluntary mind changing along the course of life.

The support required to actually move forth and chase our dreams is accessible to us even if it doesn’t come from our families or friends. We have access to an abundance of books, blogs and positive media, but what happens when the “plan” gets a wrench thrown in it?

What happens when the only real constant, which is change, comes knocking at our door and yells, “plot twist!” Nothing can prepare you for when something doesn’t go the way you thought it would, except for knowing that it probably won’t.

Here are 20 beautiful things that can happen when your “plan” goes awry:

1. You learn how you deal with conflict

The way we react when we’re distressed tends to bring up unresolved demons of which we weren’t aware when everything is smooth sailing. When you don’t get your way, do you throw a temper tantrum?

Do you selfishly steamroll people in your life? Perhaps you dig a comfy place in the sand to hide. However you react to conflict will speak highly of you.

2. You’re reminded of your own resilience

You never lost it; you just temporarily forgot how tough you are. Remember that thing you thought you simply couldn’t do? Well, now you’re here, sipping coffee and reading a blog — living, breathing and carrying on. Resilience is healing in action.

3. You learn the power of graceful fortitude

There is nothing worse than when you feel like you’re pushing forward, but the push is clunky and messy. Do all things gracefully, including change. Change can be tricky, so make it easier by loosening the grip and going with the flow. It’s a much easier dance this way.

4. Your true friends show their faces

When something particularly difficult happens, you may be surprised or hurt by who stands by your side. Consider the presence — or lack thereof — of people in your life to be a blessing. You would probably rather have a strong circle around you than a conditional one.

5. You remember the importance of having a savings

Obviously, having an extra cushion to fall back on when things fall apart is helpful. Someday, you may have to buy a plane ticket, get a new home, invest in new work clothes and so on. Having an “oh-sh*t” fund is change’s best friend.

6. You learn to rise under pressure

Yes, you will learn to rise under pressure rather than be crushed by it. Change often happens swiftly and with little warning. It asks you to react instead of just remain.

The pressure of reacting when you weren’t “planning” is a solid reminder that you are self-reliant and nothing, no matter how unexpected it may be, can shake your ability to flourish — unless you let it.

7. You learn decisive decision-making

When the plan you’ve imprinted in your mind shapes into something entirely new or the page turns before you’re finished reading, you have to make some decisions: Will I stay here? Will I stop reading this book entirely?

Whatever the question may be, it’s up to you to provide an answer. No one can do this for you, so when change comes knocking, how will you respond? Decisiveness allows forward motion to happen when change jams up the pipeline.

8. You learn to trust yourself

When you don’t listen to yourself, you send a message to your mind and heart that you don’t trust their ability to guide and protect you. Think of that inner voice as a little map when change happens and trust that you aren’t in a free-fall. That voice will catch you.

9. You learn how much faith you actually have

It’s easy to say you believe in something when you aren’t forced to believe that “something” won’t leave you hanging. When you have to hinge your belief on the fact that no matter what happens, there’s some divine order, it either strengthens or changes your beliefs.

10. You see possibilities you wouldn’t have dreamed for yourself

When we’re really attached to a plan, it’s hard to see that just outside of that plan, there are so many other possibilities. When you open your mind, you welcome the possibility of new experiences that you wouldn’t have previously considered. This helps to expand the layers of who you are.

11. You meet new people

Whether the “plan” that went south was a failed job venture, move or relationship, the upside is that you meet new people who shape your experiences in entirely different ways. Whether you meet people during the “plan” or after, when you seek new opportunities, you’re CONNECTING.

12. You give your ego a rest

Not only is it frustrating when a plan doesn’t go the intended way, it’s also a little embarrassing. It’s hard to tell someone that something simply didn’t work out. The best thing you can do is humbly express that you tried your best; there is absolutely no shame in taking risks or following your heart.

13. You exercise your independence

When a plan shifts, you don’t always get to bring a buddy. You always get to take your own two feet, your dreams and your mind and know that’s enough to bring you to the next chapter.

14. You have renewed gratitude

When we look at the big picture (as we often do with big plans), we forget to cherish the small things in front of us in our daily lives. When sh*t hits the fan, there’s no better feeling than the sun shining on your face.

15. You learn that everything ends

You start to accept, rather than fight this reality. There is a lifecycle to all things; whether beautiful or excruciating, everything is temporary. Experiences may change our hearts forever, but the experience itself will not last. However, with each ending comes a new beginning.

16. You start to go with the flow

It’s much more difficult to swim upstream. You won’t know where the river will take you, but it will take you somewhere. Surrendering is the most difficult part about change, but it’s the only option. Loosen the grip and see what happens.

17. You learn to ask for help

With attachment to a plan comes a fair amount of stubbornness, and with stubbornness comes the inability to ask for help. If a plan goes awry and you feel lost, it’s okay to ask for guidance, find a teacher, a mentor and a spiritual advisor or close friend and ask for what you need.

18. You filter the BS

When we want everything to fit into our plan, we don’t always want to see the realities in front of us. A keen sense of judgment is a good thing. Next time, you’ll have a fresher and more efficient BS meter.

19. You learn that “EASY” isn’t a gift

Struggle builds character. Effortless, easy and entitled are three words that send missiles through your plan. Nothing is easy and entitlement is only justified with the caveat of humble, honest, hard work.

Even so, it isn't guaranteed. Do all three things with little expectation and absolute willingness, gratitude and joy. A plan not going your way is the greatest gift your character could receive.

20. You learn that the new plan is better than you could’ve imagined

It’s true. Whatever you’ve dreamed up for yourself, there is always a bigger, greater, more beautiful dream waiting for you in the wings. You may not see it right away, but you will see it eventually.

Photo via We Heart It