When life doesn’t go to plan

I am a huuuuuge fan of planning. Having things organised and planned soothes me and list-making genuinely helps reduce my anxiety levels. I like to know what’s ahead and I’m sure I’m not alone with this.

Unfortunately though, life doesn’t give a shit about your plans. In fact, if you sit down to make a five-year plan I can almost guarantee things will change. And that’s because we change. We’re constantly growing and evolving.

Our priorities, wants and needs are forever shifting, and what we’re desperate to achieve one year may completely change the following year. That’s fine though – these changes are things we can adjust and work with.

But what happens when something throws you completely off track?

You get made redundant, your relationship breaks down, your landlord evicts you. Something comes up completely out of the blue and floors you.


When this happens it is oh so easy to fall into a downward spiral. Our confidence gets knocked, we feel unworthy… we want to be kids again. Adulting is damn hard sometimes and in these moments in can feel all too much.

There are ways to avoid this downward spiral though, I promise. Below are a few steps you can take to breathe, centre yourself and reboot.

Allow yourself some grieving time

Whatever set-back you’ve experienced, no matter how big or small, it’s perfectly worthy of grieving time. Give yourself space to feel sad. Stay in bed, eat all the Ben and Jerries and have a damn good cry. Trying to push through this bit or put on a brave face can make things worse. Just try to put a time limit on your grieving time so you don’t start spiralling.

Surround yourself with support

Yes, you may be strong, independent and bad-ass, but you still need a support system. Meet up with your friends to talk things through, stay with your sister for a few nights, go dancing with the girls from work. Surround yourself with people who energise and revitalise you. Consider hiring a coach to give you a deeper level of support, or if your mental health is suffering – see a counsellor.

Reframe what’s happened

This is the tricky part and I know, in some situations it really isn’t possible. But, hey – it’s worth trying right? Think about what’s happened to you and pick out the benefits or opportunities. If you’ve been made redundant for example, consider what career opportunity this presents you. Could you re-train? Start that business you’ve always wanted to?

If nothing else, ask yourself what you’ve learnt about yourself (or maybe even others) from the situation.

Let go of what you can’t control 

This makes my inner organiser/control freak wince, but it’s so important to let go of what you can’t control. Sometimes, shit just happens. It’s unfair and unjust and it sucks – but so often there is nothing we can do about it. All we can do is control our reactions and responses.

Meditation and mindfulness in particular are such helpful tools for this. You learn to become the observer, stepping back from situations and just letting them happen. You learn to be present, grounded and not panicking about the future.

Don’t compare yourself to others

When set-backs happen, our inner critics just love to pop up and point out everyone around you who who’s got their lives ‘together’. You suddenly find yourself scrolling through social media, pining for someone else’s life, wondering where it all went wrong…

Stop! You know deep down that social media is a highlight reel. You know that everyone has their own demons, their own battles. You also know that comparing yourself will do nothing but bring you down.

We’re all on our own journey and we all move at a different pace. Maybe take a little social media break and remind yourself of this.


Finally – just stop every now and then to breathe. The only moment that matters – is this moment right now. Think about what you’re grateful for, what or who makes you smile? What small daily pleasures can you incorporate into your day?

Remember, you’re still breathing. You’re still here and you’re stronger than you know.

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When life does't go to plan - how to deal with set-backs

2 thoughts on “When life doesn’t go to plan

  1. Sophie says:

    CBT has definitely helped me reframe things – it’s not about expecting the negative thoughts/instant response to go away, as that just sets me up to be self-critical! It’s about having an alternative response. Saying “okay, that’s one way to look at it… but what about this way?” Thank you for sharing, i’m so happy i’ve rediscovered your blog!

    Bumble and Be

    Liked by 1 person

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