I thought I had the perfect plan. We were taking a trip to see my wife’s family. There usually aren’t any problems on the motorway, so we packed up and headed out. The journey should normally take a little over an hour.

It took three hours!

There was work on the motorway, diversion signs that were inaccurate and when I eventually stopped to get some directions, we still made a few wrong turns before finally getting on with the journey.

I was pretty calm in the moment, though my wife was a little less so. And the boys were clearly getting tired of being in the car (they’re five and seven). But we enjoyed our visit and I found a much quicker route home.

Afterward, instead of thinking about the joy in seeing family members, the thing I spoke about the most with others who asked how the trip went was the stress of getting there.

When I asked my two boys about the trip the next day, they had completely forgotten the extra hours in the car. They only remembered seeing their family and having a good time.

Same situation — different recollection of events.

My children are my best teachers. Their ability to completely let go of the negative part of the day and only remember the positive shows how much we can learn from them.

They didn’t get ‘hung up’ about something that didn’t go their way. They dealt with it and moved on.

They were present vs. living in the past.

Back to the journey. I didn’t actually plan, check the traffic, or look for roadworks before we left because it’s a journey we have all done many, many times. I assumed it would be okay.

Even if I had planned, we would have still hit challenges on the way due to the signage being placed incorrectly.

Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the mouth.”

We can plan down to the smallest detail, but there is always the possibility that our plans will not work out as expected. Sometimes it’s a mere inconvenience. Sometimes it feels like a punch in the mouth.

It’s healthy to plan, but if we’re too attached to those plans, we can overcompensate by letting the diversion get the better of us.

Planning is one thing but it’s actually more important to work on what you can control — your own reactions to situations outside of yourself that don’t go to plan. This is what’s sometimes called ‘working on yourself’ and, for me, life is one HUGE feedback system showing what we need to work on personally in order to grow and transform.

How you react to the deviations in your plans is entirely up to you. You can let the fact that it didn’t work out as planned throw you off and affect the rest of your day.

Or you can understand that life is full of unexpected events. Accept them, revise the plan and move on.

Much like my children did. They didn’t keep talking about the roadworks, the traffic, the wrong signs, the delay … they became present and had fun in the moment with their family.

Children have a resilience that we tend to lose as adults. As we grow up, we think we have more control over the things that happen to us. Sometimes we do, but sometimes we don’t. But we always have the ability to control how we react to events.

As the year winds down and we get ready for 2019, we’ll all be making plans of some sort. I encourage you to think about what you want next year.

What do you want for your relationships?

What do you want for your health?

What do you want for your business?

Go ahead and make your plans. At the same time, expect that your plans won’t always go as you wish. You will get punched in the mouth, and, that’s okay, as long as you learn how to get up and go again.

How can you prepare yourself for life’s unexpected events? You can’t … that’s why they’re called unexpected … but you can work on yourself to learn how to stay calm, be present, and make better choices when things don’t work out as you imagined they would. This, for me, is one of the best uses of time you can invest in.

What elements do you need to work on inside yourself to help you improve the way in which you react when things don’t go to plan?

With love and wellness,

David.

P.S. If all else fails when your plans fail, you could always take Sean Stephenson’s approach … watch this video to be inspired!