How can one expect the unexpected? How can we expect something, by definition, we did not expect? Regardless of semantics, the sentiment of the expression is to be open or prepared for the unexpected. If you’re expecting the unexpected, you’ll be ready for any changes to your plans.
While having plans and goal setting can provide structure and help us reach our objectives, we also need to be flexible and adaptable when our plans don’t unfold in ways that we expect.
When we are convinced that we should be able to control the outcome of events, we set ourselves up for disappointment. What may be unrealistic expectations can lead to feelings of failure when the anticipated success doesn’t happen. Any problems may be quickly compounded if we are not prepared to take action on unexpected challenges.
When you are too tied to a specific outcome, you limit your possibilities and options. Allow yourself to be delighted – rather than annoyed – by surprises that happen to what you envision as your perfect plan. Approach these surprises with curiosity, wondering where they lead. Recall a time in your past when a surprise led to a much better outcome than you could have planned or imagined.
Action in response to the unexpected will bring new options and will open possibilities that may have been previously unavailable. Think of your life as a puzzle and each time you take action, you are given a new puzzle piece. Many action steps will give you more puzzle pieces and gradually, your picture will become clearer and more identifiable.
Adjusting to the unexpected can be a challenge but it is easier if you maintain an optimistic attitude, a belief that your experiences are helping you stretch and grow as a person. You might even admit that your imagined future was safe and comfortable and would allow less room for personal growth. Look back on your life at those times when you were challenged in a way that you would not have chosen for yourself. From your vantage point now, would you give up the wisdom you gained, despite the costs to you?
Keep your options open and expect the unexpected. Be especially gentle and kind to yourself when life is not following your blueprint. Congratulate yourself on your efforts and consider your life a great adventure rather than a life measured solely by defined and carefully planned outcomes.