Life Isn’t Linear

When you were a kid, you probably spent some time imagining what your life would be like when you grew up. You probably had a particular occupation in mind, and maybe some idea of what your family life would be like.

Maybe you actually ARE doing exactly what you thought you’d be doing, but a lot of people aren’t. At least, no one I’ve met has ever spent their life doing exactly what they thought they would be doing.

And that’s the thing. Life isn’t linear. It doesn’t proceed in a nice straight line along a pre-planned route.

Instead, there are bumps and hurdles along the way. There are bonuses, too. Sometimes things turn out better than we’d ever imagined. And…sometimes they don’t. Rarely though, do they ever turn out exactly like we had imagined.

That’s what can make planning our financial futures difficult. We may think that we’ll go to college, get a great job, and pay off those loans. Instead we get that MD and decide to stay home with the kids. Or we buy a house with the expectation that housing prices will continue upward, and instead end up unable to sell the house if we want to move.

Things just don’t always happen as planned. So when you’re planning out how you hope you’ll use your money in the future, or making a decision about what to do with your money right now, take alternate scenarios into account too.

How will you feel if things turn out exactly the opposite of what you had hoped or planned? What type of financial situation will you be in then? Is that something you can accept? If not, what could you do differently that might help to avoid that situation entirely or mitigate it if it does occur?

Planning for the best while preparing for the worst is an idea that often leaves you in very good shape. Sometimes preparing for the worst ends up making the best even better when it happens.


  • Great article. I was just thinking how I am not doing anything near what I thought I would be doing when I was in college. Sometimes we can be so hard on ourselves if we don’t live up to what we feel is our potential.

    Great advice!

  • Great advice!

    We’re currently building our emergency fund to be big enough to cover 9 months to 1 year of expenses. That’s our backup plan if things don’t work out.

    Strangely enough, I never had an idea of what I wanted to be when I was a kid, so I don’t feel like I went a weird way…just seemed to naturally arrive where I am…very odd.

    • Budgeting, sounds like a good plan with the emergency fund. I always wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up, but knew early on that that was never going to happen because I’m too allergic to animals. (Except Rhodesian Ridgebacks, as I later discovered.) So I sort of naturally arrived where I am as well.