When Things Don’t Go As Planned

Let’s face it, things don’t always go as planned.

We all encounter unexpected setbacks from time to time, which can include things like medical bills, car repairs, layoffs, etc. Of course, having a good emergency fund helps with many unexpected setbacks, but sometimes it’s easier to roll with the punches than others.

And sometimes the punches are more emotional than true huge financial hurdles. It seems like that’s especially the case when you’re working on getting your finances in order or reach a certain goal that requires money.

Usually it seems like one thing after another, or maybe just one tiny thing that, taken by itself, wouldn’t amount to much, but on top of everything else ends up being just too much.

When that happens, you may get discouraged. You may give up. Heck, I’ve been known to break down and cry in frustration.

While perfectly understandable, those aren’t the best ways to deal with setbacks.

So, what are some positive things you can do when things don’t go as planned?

First and foremost, keep going. Sure, you may need to adjust your plans a little (or sometimes a lot.) But if you keep going, you will get there eventually.

Second, try not to be so hard on yourself. Maybe your goals are set too high, or your expectations are unrealistic. (I tend to be big on setting goals that could be considered unrealistic — like paying off our house in a very short period of time.) It IS fine to give yourself permission to adjust your SMART goals to something more realistic; just be sure they are still challenging, and that they don’t drop out of the picture altogether.

It can also help to give yourself a little pep talk that could go something like this: “Hey, I’ve got this goal/I’m determined to make these change in my life. Other people might not be as willing to tackle it as I am, or be as aggressive about doing so as me. So even though things haven’t been going as well as I’d like lately, they ARE going. I’m in a lot better place than I’d be if I hadn’t started down this path. I can do it.”

Finally, it may help to view setbacks as challenges to your commitment. If you know ahead of time that you’re going to be tested, you can better take those tests in stride. You can focus on doing the best you can with the tests/setbacks, and then continuing on despite them.

What about you? Do you have any other tips for handling things when they don’t go as planned?


  • I try to gain a little perspective. As in–I’m not in Afghanistan, getting shot at or shooting anyone. I’m not picking through trash for a living before I return to my shack. I know some folks love the “it’s all relative” song, but I’m not one of them. I am blessed beyond reason, and I try to remind myself of this when things don’t go my way.

    Also, a favorite line of mine when I don’t get something I covet: Rejection is God’s Protection. It’s been true so many times!

  • Perspective. How quickly I tend to forget that! That’s a great tip :)