Recently, I found myself in a situation where things didn't quite go my way. To be honest, I'd spent a little too much time future-tripping about the ideal outcome, which ultimately, didn't pan out. While I thought I'd mentally prepared, I still found myself feeling a little bummed.
We’ve all been there before, spending hours (maybe more) envisioning the perfect scenario for a random life event, just to have things go in a different direction. As it happens, we often don’t get asked on the second date, get the promotion, get engaged, get pregnant or get the house we dreamed of on our own schedule. Watching our perfect plan crumble is simply what happens sometimes. So why is it, then, that we aren’t better prepared when things don’t go our way?
If you’re like me, you might spend time second guessing your actions trying to determine what you could have done differently to ensure a more favorable outcome. Maybe you even start to wonder what else in your grand plan might be off track now that this one piece of the puzzle is out of place.
I get it. I’ve totally been there. It’s so easy to get caught up in our own stories and priorities. Personally, I’d spend lot’s of time future-tripping and dreaming up perfect scenarios when it came to my career or a relationship, always confident that my plan was the best plan for me. The trouble is, I’d failed to realize one important truth: the Universe has far bigger plans for us than we have for ourselves...and each and every time, the Universe would - indeed - surprise me with something that was far more magnificent than my own, tiny, failed plan.
That’s right, often, we underestimate ourselves and pour all of our hope and energy into one specific outcome; never for a second considering that there might be another, more beautiful outcome that simply requires patience. So, if you’re a master of over-planning, future-tripping and control-freaking (admittedly, I made that one up), here are five practices to help you get centered (note that you can use these steps in all phases of “planning” - not just when your own plan has “failed”):
Acknowledge and accept that the Universe doesn’t work on our schedule. You heard me; the Universe has a plan of her own, and there’s nothing you can do to hurry her along. It doesn’t matter how well we orchestrate a timetable for a big life event, life simply doesn’t happen on our schedule. Quite often - okay, literally all the time - there is a reason why we don’t get the job, get asked on another date, win the bidding war, conceive the child, etc. In those moments, say this prayer: “Dear Universe, help me to be patient and trusting. I know things do not always happen on my time clock. I trust that your plan will reveal itself with divine timing.”
Release the outcome. Putting pressure on yourself to achieve a specific outcome that is out of your control is one sure way to block the flow of abundance the universe has to offer. If you’ve poured all of your energy into believing something must happen a specific way, you’re doing yourself a disservice by psychically blocking any other outcomes from entering the picture. Instead, say, “Universe, I release the outcome of this situation into your capable hands. I trust that you will guide this situation to an outcome that is of the highest good for all.”
Be open to infinite possibilities. Once we’ve released the timing and outcome to the Universe, we can more easily be open to infinite possibilities. This means, being open to the possibility that there are scenarios which you may never have even imagined. Often, we’ve narrowed the possibilities down to “A, B or C” and think that releasing the outcome means simply being open to all three options which we are consciously aware of. Rather, we should open our mind to any and all creative possibilities the Universe reveals to us remembering that her plans are often far more creative than we have the capacity to dream of ourselves. In moments where you feel yourself limiting the possible outcomes of a situation, say: “Universe, I am open to infinite possibilities and ask you to help me to receive new, creative outcomes without judgement.”
Remember, there is no wrong path. Or, as my dear teacher Gabby Bernstein says, “Obstacles are detours in the right direction.” I look at it like this: The Universe has a grand plan, but you have free will. The Universe is always re-situating, ebbing and flowing with our every move. The Universe does not punish us for the decisions we make. Rather, it adjusts and redirects. Deepak Chopra said it best, “The universe has no fixed agenda. Once you make any decision, it works around that decision. There is no right or wrong, only a series of possibilities that shift with each thought, feeling, and action that you experience.” When you feel yourself worry that one event will throw “off course, say: “Universe, help me to see the challenges I face as detours in the right direction. Free my mind from worrying about the outcome and allow me to trust that you are supporting me on my journey, no matter which path I may take.”
Ask the Universe for guidance and clarity. When something doesn’t go our way, the most evolved thing we can do is ask for (and be open to) guidance. This is a step beyond saying, “everything happens for a reason” (which it does). This is like saying, “Universe, I know that the things I think are happening to me are actually happening for me. Please, help me to receive the guidance you have to offer with grace. I am ready to learn and grow from this experience.”
The biggest lesson here is to focus on potential, not on failure. If we perceive that we’ve lost something every time a plan doesn’t go our way, we create a lack mentality; thus attracting more of the same. If we perceive that a failed plan is really the Universe guiding us towards a more favorable course, we open ourselves up to a more creative outcome. Or, as wise woman Kate Northrup says, “It’s not going to turn out the way you thought it would, it will be better.”