Life can be full of unexpected surprises. No matter how much we plan, prepare, and set out to accomplish certain goals in a certain time frame, life usually has other plans.
It's in those crisis moments when we feel like we are off our "path". A layoff, a breakup, a divorce, a move, a financial emergency, can derail your life order and have you feeling out of sorts.
When I was 22, I had a series of events that occurred that threw everything off — within a period of six months, I dealt with a breakup, a layoff, a car accident, and the passing of my grandmother. On top of that all the stress was literally making me sick.
At a fairly young age, when I was trying to make it on my own, it felt like everything was working against me. Everything felt hard.
It's been quite a few years since that time and I've experienced the ebb and flow of life — really amazing upswings and also some tough downturns. A few years ago, I found myself deep in student loan debt, unable to find a full-time job, feeling hopeless about my debt situation. Luckily, I've been able to climb out of that too.
Although things are better for me now, there are always ups-and-downs in life — and most of the time, they affect your finances, too. It's important to be able to cope when things do take a turn for the worse and continue on as best you can.
Here are a few tips on how to cope when your finances, or other areas of life, don't go as planned.
This might feel like the last thing you want to do when things aren't going as planned in your life. How can you be grateful during a layoff or a divorce? Being grateful is appreciating what you already have and also allows you to flip the script.
You can be grateful for a layoff because maybe you can spend more time with your children. You can be grateful for a divorce knowing that you're now free to find the right person. Gratitude actively shifts your perspective so you can be happy with what you have and also know that it could be worse.
Understand It's Temporary
During those two tough times in my life it felt like they would never end. It felt like I would never heal, or feel better and that I was doomed to never find my path or my calling. But you know what? Tough times are temporary. Maybe they'll last for months, or even years, but they will be temporary. Tough times don't last and things get better over time.
Understand that your situation is temporary and things will get better, if you keep persevering. Focus on your mental, physical, and financial health and know that things will turn around eventually.
Acknowledge the Situation
When things in your life don't go as planned, it's easy to think:
"What could I have done differently?"
"Why did this happen to me?!"
"Maybe if I did this differently…"
It's easy to cast blame on others and also over-analyze the situation. I think self-reflection is key to the healing process, but only to a certain extent. Having your days consumed by your failed job, failed relationship, or whatever the case may be is not healthy.
So you need to acknowledge the situation. Accept that it happened and that life is different. Give yourself the permission to feel the pain, but then to also move on.
Think of This as an Opportunity
When things don't go as planned in your life, start thinking of it as an opportunity to do something else. Although it might sound cliché, when one door closes, another one opens. You just have to find the right door!
Maybe a layoff turns into an opportunity to fulfill a dream you've put off your whole life? A divorce can be a chance to start over and build again — move somewhere new, do things differently.
A financial disaster could shed light on some things that need to change. When things don't go as planned in your life, start thinking about the silver lining and the underlying lesson. The key is to channel your energy into something productive. Perhaps you start a blog, take a class, or take up running. Turn your pain into a gain!
There are lessons to be learned during tough times. You may not understand what that lesson is until years later, but you'll know it some day. It's the tough times that make us appreciate the good times and can shed light on a new direction or things we want to change about ourselves.
How do you cope when things don't go as planned? How do you prepare yourself financially for the unexpected?
Written by Melanie Lockert for MoneyNing and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.