5 Ways Not to Flip Out When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned








Sometimes (often in fact) life just doesn’t go the way we planned.  Case in point:  This weekend I arrived at the conference where I was the keynote speaker and realized I forgot my clothes. (Who does that, by the way? Except me, I mean??) Years ago I told my small group that my idea of hell would be to have to pack for the rest of eternity.   I guess now I’ll have to add the concept of taking the time to pack and then forgetting what I packed.


You have your own unexpected dilemmas, too. They may not be caused by your own mindlessness like mine usually are; they might be a result of someone else’s crisis.  But still, we all have to deal with life’s unexpected events.  So how we maintain our cool when our days don’t unfold as we had hoped?

1. Expect the Unexpected.

Half the reason we flip out when life doesn’t go as planned is because we fail to anticipate the very real likelihood that on any given day we’ll receive unexpected phone calls, text messages or emails which will drastically alter the way we’ve planned to allocate our time.  Who among us hasn’t gotten a call from a sick child or a stranded friend or a teenager who forgot his homework/lunch/money for prom? Who hasn’t had to deal with traffic jams or unusually long lines? When the unexpected comes, take a deep breath and remember your crazy life is normal.

2. Create Margin

Margin comes in all forms: time, money and rest, just to name a few.  I’ve learned from years of firsthand experience living without margin, that if the unexpected comes when I have no margin, it’s nearly impossible to respond with grace and peace.  Fortunately, I’ve grown in this area.  When I realized I’d forgotten my clothes this weekend I had two full hours to shop for replacements and money in the bank to afford them. My mistake was inconvenient and costly, but not nearly as devastating as it could have been if I’d arrived with without the margin of time and money.

3. Laugh, Pray and Breathe

Eat, Pray, Love may have been a bestselling book, but Laugh, Pray and Breathe is the way to handle life’s unexpected moments. Unless the situation is dire, you can usually find something funny about unforeseen circumstances.  Learn to laugh when you can.  The worst moments today often turn into the funniest memories tomorrow.

Even if you can’t find it in your heart to laugh, you can always find a way to pray.  Take a deep breath, close your eyes and whisper a prayer for help.  Or wisdom.  Or patience.  Or strength to handle the situation with grace. The few seconds you take to slow down, breathe deep and whisper a prayer will give you the perspective you need to handle things in ways you won’t later regret.

4. Let Your Priorities Determine Your Decisions

When we have our priorities in place, we sometimes realize that unexpected interruptions don’t always have to be addressed.  Occasionally, our kids might have to survive without a forgotten lunch and learn that they won’t die.  Sometimes we might be available to help a co-worker later in the day, rather than right. This. Very. Minute. Other times we’ll realize that an unexpected situation must be attended to immediately. Either way, we’ll feel less like victims of our circumstance and more like masters of them.

5. Live with a (Real) Awareness that God is in Control

Circumstances that surprise us never surprise God.  We may not see something coming, but God does. And no matter what, He’s with us in the midst of the unexpected.  Today, no matter what has come your way, or will come your way, God is with you. He’s snack dab in the middle of your circumstance, ruling over all. Rather than flipping out, stressing out or lashing out, let God’s presence and God’s power bring you the peace you so desperately need when life doesn’t go as planned.

Who knows?  You may even get a cute new outfit because of it.

Donna speaks to thousands of women each year.  To book Donna to speak at your event click here.

Follow Donna on Facebook at Donna Jones, Speaker & Author or on Twitter at @donnajonesspeak.



  1. All five points are good, but 2 and 4 are my biggest challenges! Margin – too much stuff in our lives. Priorities – too easy to let them slip out of focus. Great post. Liked here from fb.

    1. I totally agree, Warren. Creating margin and remembering to live according to my priorities are the two biggest challenges for me as well.

  2. Judy

    What a great article filled with wisdom for living! Thank you, Donna!! You’re such a blessing!

  3. Dianne Sivulka

    Awesome Donna! I kept waiting for you to share this funny story with our women this weekend… but now I see you’ve shared it here. Thank you for being such a dynamic and applicable speaker for our women. I love your article above… maybe a title for your next book??? Laugh, Pray and Breath!

  4. Laurie Guy

    Gosh, did I need to read this today. It all started when my husband Chris walked across the dining room and said, “The carpet is wet.” It turns out we had a water leak in the wall. Dehumidifiers, fans, people in and out of our home for a week. Large sections of drywall had to be removed. Carpet ruined. Some furniture ruined. What a mess. My husband asked me how long I was going to be in a bad mood. I told him, “Until the house is put back together and looks like it did before the leak.” After reading your blog, I realized that I could just stay in a bad mood, or? I picked or. What I was upset about were things. Material things. Replaceable things. Thank you so much Donna for putting things into perspective for me, and for sharing your words of wisdom.

  5. Amber Lee

    Wow, now that was great! Thank you, reading you’re 5points, I literally felt my heart beat stabilize.

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