When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned

There are many parts of my life I didn’t plan on or had something totally different in mind.

I didn’t plan on having anxiety or a panic attack at age 32.

I didn’t plan on it taking 8 years to know my purpose.

I didn’t plan on getting sick for 2 years with a virus in my head and have a weakened immune system for another 3 years after, laying me in bed for weeks at a time. 

I didn’t plan on being single at age 43 or not having children.

I didn’t plan on my dad dying of a heart attack when I was 26, and my mom having a tumor the size of a grapefruit when I was 41 (it wasn’t cancerous by the way).

There’s a great quote, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Her/Him your plans.” 

The attachment to your “plans” can cause so much suffering.

You didn’t plan on the divorce. You didn’t plan on your teenager saying mean things to you. You didn’t plan on being single at whatever age you are. You didn’t plan on being married at whatever age you are.

You didn’t plan on becoming bankrupt. You didn’t plan on getting cancer.

I’m not trying to sound depressing here, I’m making a point.

The point is that life doesn’t go as “planned.” It just happens. It’s filled with loss, change, laughter, sadness, anger, joy, frustration, love, and much more. It’s ALL of it. The suffering comes when you believe you’re in control of how it unfolds. 

The root of ALL suffering is wanting life to be different than it IS in this moment or in the past. This doesn’t mean you don’t make goals, or work on dreams, or make plans. 

It’s stopping right now to say, “I accept how life is.” Not wishing or wanting it to be different.

Here’s my latest lesson in this. I planned a trip into the Wind River Range for the past 6 months to visit a certain area called Bear Basin. My friend Marlena and I looked over maps, planned our route, and were really excited.

We drove 7 hours to the trailhead, to read this sign: “Trail CLOSED due to uncontained fire.” 


I was bummed. I wanted to go there. This wasn’t in the plan. I pouted for awhile. I even grieved. Damn it. Damn lightning for starting the fire. 

I was totally resisting life as it was in that moment.

I thought about it. Was it worth pouting? What were the other options? I could pout and be bummed the rest of the time, or see a new opportunity. 10 years ago, I would have pouted for many days, this time, it was for an hour. That’s what success means on the spiritual path. Do you see how there’s a lot less suffering?

Marlena and I chose a different route, we saw some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen, and came home 7 days later feeling totally blissed out. That’s the result of surrendering to WHAT IS.

Here’s what to do when life doesn’t go as you planned:

  • Get pissed for a bit. Maybe it’s a minute, maybe it’s an hour, maybe it’s a day. Notice how you feel when you’re pissed resisting WHAT IS. Does it feel good, or would you rather not feel this way?
  • Take a deep breath in and say that it’s o.k. Tell yourself that what has happened is o.k. That it doesn’t need to be any different. That you can be happy with life unfolding as it is.
  • Then start to look for the gems. Look for the opportunities for growth, for opening your heart, for having closer connections, for letting go. This is the spiritual path. It’s your path to happiness and freedom.

Below are great pics from the rest of the trip. The trip that WASN’T planned. How can you relate this to your life? Where are the gems for what didn’t go as planned. How can you turn it into gratitude instead?

Square Top Mountain – Hooya!

Bottle Mountain and the Green River
we camped near first night out.


Yup – that’s a real mushroom – growing at 10,000 ft.

Elbow Lake. 11,000 ft. Gorgeous sunset.

Day 55 of my 80 day yoga challenge

Another 5 star campsite.
Heart of the Winds in the background.

Marlena scoring a Full House in Yahtzee!

Moon rise over mountains. Spectacular.

I think I heard “The Hills are Alive” from the
Sound of Music when I walked through here.

Club Med on Green River Lake. Who needs Hawaii?

After our Club Med swim, 
coveting the bag of chips waiting for us in the car.


Categories: Self-Organization

About the Author: Angela Patnode

My passion, my calling, is for you to be totally you. Through private coaching, in-depth retreats, and online group coaching programs, I help you tap into your intuition and clarify your desires and vision, I guide you to take active steps toward making your desires a reality.

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