Life takes some interesting twists and turns.  The whole time I was growing up my parents encouraged me to make plans for my life, but I’ve discovered making life plans is a lot like planning for a trip to Hawaii.  You purchase flip flops, shorts, and sunscreen.  You anticipate the sights, sounds, and flavors of the tropical paradise.  You make arrangements for surfing lessons and rent the beach house.  You board the plane satisfied you have planned well for your adventure, sit back in your seat and eagerly await landing in Honolulu.

When your plane touches down, the flight attendant welcomes you to Alaska.  ALASKA?  How did I end up in Alaska!  For a while you really battle the unfairness of ending up in Alaska. It wasn’t the plan.  You might even try everything you can to get out of Alaska and get back on your way to Hawaii, but at some point, you realize there’s a lot to like about Alaska—the people, charming towns, diverse landscapes, snow-capped peaks, and the aurora borealis.  Eventually, you might even realize that Alaska is where you needed to be all along.

Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.  Maybe it’s not all about “the plan,” but who you become during the journey.

Here are some things to think about when faced with hard-to-accept setbacks even though you’ve “followed all the rules”.

Make the most of your situation.  It’s a springboard to something else, or the beginning of something new that will be the making of you. 

Focus on what you DO have, not what you DON’T have.  Even though a career might be interrupted, health may be snatched from you, your business hits a low point, or a relationship doesn’t work out, use what you do have.  You have relationships, family, knowledge, experience, curiosity, or maybe just plain old grit.  What you do have, will carry you through.

Don’t be afraid to change.  There’s nothing wrong about closing a chapter in your life to start a new one.   It takes courage to step out of “comfortable” into the “unknown”.

Allow failures to teach you.   We’ve all experienced disappointments and failures.  It’s our common experience.  How many times have you heard, “failures can turn out to be opportunities?”  During her speech at Harvard University, J.K. Rowling, who at one point was on the verge of homelessness said, “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”

Follow your intuition.  Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, said “Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect.”  Sometimes it doesn’t make sense, but trusting your intuition is important.  Billion-dollar businesses have been born from following intuition.

You might end up in Alaska when you were hoping for Hawaii, but as Maya Angelou, successful author and poet, put it, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

According to plan . . . or not, you win.