What To Do When Your Plan Falls Apart

First off, in the immortal words of Douglas Adams: Don’t Panic.

Ahh, plans. They’re good to have, because they give structure to a dream (and your life in general, for that matter) and give you measurable steps to work on. Great! Without measurable goals, how do we know that we’re making progress at all? They help keep you motivated, and break things down into manageable steps, which are easier to complete without driving you batty. For more information on planning, click here.

But we all know what can and frequently does happen to plans. You get 2 steps in, and something unexpected pops up that interferes and changes the whole game. Or a new opportunity arises that may lead to something better than where your plan goes. Or everything may be going according to plan, but the end result of the plan starts looking less appealing.

Most people get anxious when things stop going as planned. We derive comfort from having stable lives with little variation, it feels safe and secure. Well, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but following your big dreams means that sometimes oftentimes, plans will fall through. And you know something? That’s okay.

In the end, the moments that will make you most proud on your winding road to success won’t be where everything went off without a hitch, it’ll be where you had to make an abrupt left turn off the highway onto some tiny little dirt track that doesn’t even exist according to your old, outdated GPS, yet you manage to make it work out in the end anyhow.

As my father might say, adversity builds character. You learn more, grow more, and are more present and alive when facing these kind of challenges. But that doesn’t make these moments easy. When it all blows up in your face, fear and uncertainty rule. At this point, many people might turn away from their dreams, head back to familiar streets where the directions and destination are clear and the traffic, while busy, means that at least you won’t be alone. No, you won’t be alone by yourself. Instead, you’ll be alone among thousands, and back to square one thinking again that there must be more to life than this.

Instead of turning around, take a good look at where you are. The fear can be overcome to a good extent. Once that is taken care of, it’s question time. What caused your plan to backfire? If it was an error that you had control over, acknowledge that no one is perfect, but take responsibility for your actions and learn from the mistake before moving on.

Harder to swallow are blow ups that are the result of forces outside of your control, and the truth is, there are many things that we can’t control or predict. When something like this happens, our first response may be to curse our bad luck, and get mad that the world didn’t conspire in our favor. Don’t we deserve this after all that hard work? But looking at it from an attitude of entitlement isn’t going to get you closer to your goal. This kind of negativity leads to procrastination, wallowing, and ruts – not a good platform from which to launch the next plan of attack. And that’s the key when you find yourself in this sort of dilemma, push through and keep going.

We may not be able to control a lot of things in our lives, but one thing you can always control is how you respond to a situation. So when life hands you the proverbial lemon, make lemonade. Instead of getting mad, brainstorm 10 things you could do to get your plan back on track. And then get started doing them. Right now. No one said this would be easy, but it is worth it. Put your time to good use, get up, and keep fighting for your dream.

And if some point down the road, if a new path makes itself known, and it seems like it leads to someplace you like better than where you’re heading, don’t be afraid to follow your heart and take it. In our society, quitting is seen in a very negative context. The way I see it, if something is no longer enriching your life, it’s okay to drop it. In fact, it’s imperative to do so, because that will free up more time, energy, and other resources to do the things that do move you.

When in your life have you encountered an unexpected problem with a plan you had? What did you do to get around the problem?

Image courtesy of Shoes on Wires

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Christy @ Technosyncratic on February 3, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    This post reminds me of a “situation” we had in Mayhem with the black tank… when it backed up into an air vent and alllllll the lovely bits of the tank overflowed over the top of our RV. Oh my, it was disastrous…. but then we went with the flow (heh) and did our best to deal with the situation, even when we were sort of throwing up in our mouths a little.

    Oh the joys of living in a motorhome!! 😛

    • Becky on February 3, 2012 at 11:32 pm

      Hello Christy, thanks for posting. 🙂 I’ve read about that story on your site, I can hardly imagine what it must have been like that moment you realized what had happened! It seems like everyone who has RVed for any length of time acquires a black tank horror story at some point or another, but yours was quite…unique. Hopefully when my inevitable time comes I can stand up to the challenge as well as you did.

      I hope you two are continuing to have a good time in Thailand and I look forward to following your adventure. 🙂

  2. george on January 31, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    For sure, it’s fun and extremely useful to find all this information on the various web forums. I’ve been looking at a lot of the fiberglass RV’s on the web now for a few weeks, and actually found one that I really like a lot. It’s the Escape 5, a fifth wheel that can be pulled by something like my Nissan Frontier. There’s so many cool little ‘glass RV’s being made !
    I went camping this last sunday night at a local state park, and had a pack of coyotes come yelping thru my camp in the middle of the night ! Very cool experience, although my little Schipperke dog didn’t think so ! She kept her mouth shut, and snugged in tight for the 30 seconds or so that the coyotes were outside the trailer !

    I say it again, I look forward to when you finally hit the road in your soon-to-be Casita. You have great writing talent, your stories from the road will be interesting and fun to read.

    • Becky on February 1, 2012 at 8:49 am

      What a cute little 5th wheel! Scamp has a little fiberglass 5th wheel too but I’m not sure if it can be towed by your Nissan, have you looked at it? Just comparing the pictures, I like the look of the Escape one better, it’s more streamlined.

      I’m kinda jealous now. I haven’t seen a coyote in a long time, since going to Yellowstone with my family over 10 years ago I think. My time will come though. 🙂

      Thanks again. I’m actually going to explore writing articles for others as a way to earn a little extra money, that’s today’s task. The new job doesn’t start until Friday so I find myself with some free days, figured I should start on location independent income as soon as possible.

      • george on February 1, 2012 at 10:02 am

        I have not seen either the Scamp or the Escape 5 in person. I’d like to go to a rally, talk to some owners of them, and have a look.

        And yes, the Frontier would easily pull either of those trailers.

  3. george on January 31, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Becky, I am a lot older than you ( and I mean a LOT older ! ) and I can tell you that the first rule of war is that as soon as the battle starts, the plan falls apart. So it goes without saying that “it’s good to be flexible”.
    Yep…..have a plan, but be willing to be agile and able to change with the dynamics of life as it unfolds in front of you.

    • Becky on January 31, 2012 at 6:17 pm

      Amen George. I’m lucky that so many RVers these days are active online, makes sorting out the problems so much easier. 🙂

  4. Dale on January 30, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    Oh and in all my silliness with that last post, I did not answer your question : “What did you do to get around the problem?” : humm, my answer: “follow the music”.

    • Becky on January 31, 2012 at 6:15 pm

      Haha, thanks for the humor Dale, I needed that today. My bath robe and towel are packed and ready to go. 😉

  5. Dale on January 30, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    “Where everything went off without a hitch?” Eeeek! not your trailer!

    I hope you hooked up the 12 volt emergency brake?

    Any Yay! a girl that quotes Douglas Adams!

    The best laid plans of Mice and 😉 . I hope you can get your “So Long and Thanks for All the Fish” mojo going soon.

    and yay for best laid plans that are more than just a bath-towel, a bath robe, and an buddie with a strange book)

    I see so many la-la-la – you can do it too RV blogs – They are like Vogon Poetry to me.

    Planning gives power (even to Vogons who may make way for a hyper-space expressway soon – so live now regardless).

    Yes, there are rough patches, narrow escapes, and improbable improbabilities even after you hit the road, but holy-geezzzzzz at the beauty spots!
    Stay motivated, and don’t forget your bath-towel.

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