Recalculating route…your author hears this a lot as they are driving around using Google Maps. You may be the type of person who knows where they are at all times and knows backup routes to their backup routes. If we just described you, well done. We will assume you were in the military or a Scout and know where you are according to an internal compass at all times. Our mind is basically a white board that gets wiped at the end of the day when it comes to directions, we kind of remember, but better take the phone out just in case.
Life is a lot like Google or Apple Maps, perhaps even Waze on a particularly bad day, we have a route set and a destination in mind. Our life directions look a little like this: we work hard in school so we can get into a good program, college or job and then we use this as a stepping stone to a better job, a better apartment or house, ability to travel, etc.. Our destination, aka our dreams, are big and bright , we are pressing forward, life is on track and then…it just isn’t. Que the screen flashing, Recalculating Route.
When our dreams drift, it's natural to feel a sense of loss, disappointment and even resentment. However, these uncharted stops along the way are far from being obstacles, but can become the sources of our most profound growth, joy, and fulfillment. The key lies in finding the good even when our plans go awry.
1. Acceptance is the Starting Point
Denial and resistance only magnify the pain of unmet expectations. Accepting the present moment, even if it's not what you want or planned, creates a foundation from which you can derive joy and find new meaning. Embracing your current reality doesn't mean giving up on your dreams; it simply allows you the freedom to work with what you have right now.
2. Reframe the Situation
The stories we tell ourselves influence our perception. Instead of thinking, "I failed," or "This isn't what I wanted," try asking, "What can I learn from this?" or "How can this situation serve me?" By reframing, we shift our focus from what’s missing to what’s possible.
3. Discover Unseen Opportunities
Sometimes, the detours in life open up pathways we'd never have discovered otherwise. An unexpected career shift might introduce you to lifelong friends. A relocation might expose you to cultures, experiences, and personal growth that you'd never have sought out on your own. Where one door closes, another often opens - we just have to be willing to see and walk through it.
4. Cultivate Gratitude
Even in challenging circumstances, there's always something to be grateful for. Regularly reflecting on and expressing gratitude can shift our focus from what we lack to what we have, fostering a sense of abundance and contentment.
5. Reevaluate Life Goals
When faced with unexpected challenges or shifts in direction, it’s a good time to reassess our goals. Perhaps what we once desired no longer serves our best interests. Or maybe, through our experiences, we've discovered passions and priorities we weren't previously aware of. This is an opportunity to realign our goals with our current self.
6. Seek Support and Share Stories
Connecting with others can offer comfort, perspective, and advice. By sharing our stories, we often realize that we're not alone in our struggles and that many have found joy in circumstances they hadn't planned for.
7. Celebrate Small Wins
When life doesn't go as planned, it's essential to recognize and celebrate small victories. Whether it's mastering a new skill, forging a new relationship, or simply getting through a tough day, these moments of achievement can offer solace and motivation.
8. Remain Open to Change
Lastly, the only constant in life is change. By staying adaptable and open to new experiences, we not only survive unexpected twists but thrive in them.
When it turns out your life isn't the one you planned, that doesn't mean that your life is less valuable or fulfilling. Life is a canvas of unique experiences, lessons and opportunities that can lead to unforeseen joys and achievements. Ask any artist about their piece and they will tell you all the places they messed up did something they hadn’t planned on doing, but all you see is the gorgeous end result. It is the same for your life. So remember, embracing the unexpected and finding the silver linings in every situation can pave the way to a fulfilling and beautiful life. It may be different from the one you envisioned but it can be equally, if not more, enriching.
All the best,
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Food for thought:
Can you recall a time when your life got off track?
Was the experience something you learned from?
What is something you wish you could change about your life?
What is one thing about your life you are grateful for?