When we’re young, we tend to have big dreams and make plans accordingly. Many of us grow up under the impression that life will always go as planned, but we realize as we get older that it doesn’t always work that way.
Planning your life around your dreams is wonderful, but what if the seemingly foolproof blueprint you’ve set out for yourself doesn’t work out? What if the road you thought you’d be walking on by now is actually a long way off? What if, as frightening as it sounds, your idea of what life should be isn’t what you’re actually living?
No matter how smoothly things may be going, life is bound to throw a few curveballs your way. To help you let go of your anxieties, consider these 4 steps to stay ready and able to alter your game plan if needed.
1. Accept the truth.
The truth is that we don’t have full control of our lives. Sure, we can make plans and take action, but there are many other things that factor into our situation. From your significant other deciding to leave, mother getting sick, boss laying you off or even a tornado destroying your home—the list of things that are beyond you goes on. Accept that there many things out of our control and focus instead on things that you have power over, like your attitude, thoughts, emotions, actions and reactions to altering events. The sooner you can accept this, the less stressful life will be.
2. Go with the flow.
Obstacles and road bumps are never fun, but there’s really nothing we can do to stop them from happening. Sometimes, it’s just the way the cookie crumbles. Once you fully come to terms with this, you’ll realize that life can still be pretty awesome even when it doesn’t go as planned. Quit putting so much pressure on yourself to stick close to the plan. Life may be redirecting you to something much greater and that may bring you much more joy than anticipated. Just take a deep breath, roll with the punches and see if it gives you a new perspective.
3. Be present.
There are a thousand “what ifs” in life and the best way to deal with them is by understanding this: the past is over, the future hasn’t happened yet and the one thing you truly have is the present moment. Therefore, being angry about the past will not change anything and fretting over the future is like paying for a debt you never borrowed. Thinking about these only hold you back from moving forward. Instead, just think about now. Can you appreciate where you are right now — on the way to where you are going? Can you be happy with the life lessons you’re picking up along the way? Can you be grateful for this part of the journey?
4. Become your own coach.
When you find yourself ready to throw in the towel, pay closer attention to your internal dialogue. Coach yourself into shifting your mentality and if it helps, say the following statements out loud:
- “The past is over and there is nothing I can do about it.”
- “I am grateful for where I am in life right now.”
- “I’ve learned many valuable lessons from my past.”
- “I am optimistic for my future.”
- “I realize that I am not in control of everything. I have to do what I can and accept the rest.”
For those who follow the 12-step recovery model, the Serenity Prayer may also be an excellent go-to statement for obtaining inner peace: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”