Plans do change, whether we like it or not. So, what is there to do when plans change?
You probably know the feeling. It is those times when you had set your goal, made your plan, and scheduled all the appropriate tasks but then something happened. You have worked so hard but still, nothing goes on as you had planned.
It has happened to all of us. You might for example have been preparing really hard for a full year for your final exams and a week before the exam you had an accident and had to spend days in hospital.
You might have been working hard to get a promotion and deliver a super project to your boss when suddenly a storm cuts off electricity for days and everything is postponed.
These are just a few examples of things that can go wrong which are not on our hands no matter how well prepared we could have been.
Yes, when we set a goal and make our plans about when and how we can accomplish it, we also try to predict some things that might go wrong. However, examples like the ones mentioned above are not of those that one could ever predict.
“All human plans [are] subject to ruthless revision by Nature, or Fate, or whatever one preferred to call the powers behind the Universe.”― Arthur C. Clarke, 2010: Odyssey Two
Accept the Fact that Plans Change
There are several circumstances that can force plans to change. Although we would never welcome them and they certainly make us feel uncomfortable, yet, we should not be afraid of them or let them discourage us.
Could we have known about what was going to happen?
Ought we to predict something like this?
Of course not.
Unfortunate events that might force us to change our plans do happen but it does not mean that we should stop planning our actions in order to accomplish a goal. Quite the opposite. A good plan is necessary to help us work towards our goal and finally achieve it but yet, plans do change. It is important to accept it as a fact. There is no reason to paralyze or panic.
Everything is part of this constant change which after all is life. When a flight is canceled but you absolutely have to get somewhere you get flexible and start thinking of the alternatives. You can get there by train or bus. If that is not possible alter the date you have to be there. Don’t change your destination, thus your goal, change the means or the timeline instead.
“When things don’t go according to plan, plan according to how things go.”Kayambila Mpulamasaka
How to Adjust Your Plans and Think of Your Next Steps
1. How Much Does The Change Affect Your Plans
This change that happened, how much does it really affect your main plan? Did you suddenly lose a person working with you to accomplish your goal? Will you be able to find someone else? Did your computer break down and you have to replace it? Will you be able to fix/replace it soon?
If something crucial happened this means that it affects the plan a lot. In these cases, you should review the plan and probably alter it. If it was something small then probably some small adjustments to the plan could work.
2. Does The Change Affect Your Dead Line And How?
This change that happened, does it mean that the original goal will not be accomplished on time? If yes then when could you most possibly accomplish it?
Time is one of the main parameters that must be set when making a plan. It is important to identify how much does the change in plans affects the goal deadline. Would it be a few days, weeks, or even months?
3. Do You Have to Change Your Necessary Steps?
Sometimes a change in plans might mean that some of the steps that were originally planned are no longer needed. In this case, these steps should be removed. This might also mean that new needs might appear, meaning that you should add new steps to the original plan. Changing the steps or the plan means that you change the strategy you will follow to accomplish your goal.
4. Can Your Goal Remain The Same?
And finally, when something happens the goal itself might no longer be the same. Sometimes when something happens which changes everything we had in mind we might realize that the original goal is no longer feasible no matter how much we adjust. In this case, we should think of something else, maybe a bit less than the original goal within the same time frame.
In some other cases while working on something you may realize that it is not exactly what you thought it would be. You then realize that it is something else you want instead and this new thing should now be your main goal. After all, this new goal might be what you really need.
“Always plan for the fact that no plan ever goes according to plan.”Simon Sinek
Even if Plans Change Stay Focused on your Goals
Your goals are where you wanted to be in the first place. Even if sometimes things get out of your control your eyes should always remain on them. This of course stands as long as you are absolutely sure that this goal is what you really want.
No matter what happens in between that might cause a change in plans it does not mean that it should discourage you or prevent you from working towards your goals. Your goals are there to remind you who you are and what you are able to accomplish as long as you want it bad enough. Life will always be in the way and that is not a bad thing. Remember that no matter what happens you can always make it happen.
“No matter what the work you are doing, be always ready to drop it. And plan it, so as to be able to leave it.”― Leo Tolstoy, The Journal of Leo Tolstoy
Final Thoughts on What to Do When Plans Change
If everything in this life always went according to plan, let’s face it, life would be pretty boring. People make plans all the time and they are all susceptible to change, so as life is.
What can you do when that happens is to accept the fact that plans, no matter how good they are, they do change. Adjust your plans or yourself and think of what your next steps should be.
Identify the impact of this change to your main plan and whether your final goal is affected by this change and how . You should also identify whether your time limits remain the same or they should be adjusted. Maybe your working approach should be altered.
However, sometimes this unexpected changes might force you to evaluate your final goal altogether. At that point the main question is whether your final goal remains the same or not.
Sometimes while people are working on their alternatives they realize that this is what they actually wanted all along. But yet, it took this uncomfortable change of plans to let them acknowledge it.
What I mean to say is, set your goals, make your plans and work hard to achieve them but always be aware of the unexpected. Learn to accept what you cannot control and move on.