How to Cope When Things Don’t Go As Planned

written by Bari Tessler November 17, 2022

Dear Money Adventurer,

Sometimes in this life and money journey, despite all your best-laid plans, you find yourself navigating the uncertainty of the unexpected. What, in hindsight, might seem a reasonable or even predictable outcome can feel disorienting and overwhelming as you find yourself coping with a reality that isn’t what you expected it to be.

I knew that life would change drastically after my son was born. I knew I would really have to scale back on my business, especially at first, as I recovered from childbirth and my husband and I got used to our new lives as parents. I was prepared for that – or at least as prepared as an expectant new parent can be.

In those early, sleepless days, weeks, months, after Noah was born, I had maybe five hours a week to spend on my business. Before becoming a mama, I devoted fifty to sixty hours a week to the small group program that would eventually become The Art of Money. Which is a lot, to be fair, but it was also the measure I used to evaluate my capacity and set my priorities.

Suddenly, I was in a space where I didn’t have the same kind of time. I couldn’t move as quickly. I couldn’t do as much. Some folks have babies and bounce back to work a few weeks or months later, but I knew that I needed to move slowly, gently through this phase.

Which meant that I needed to re-evaluate what was realistic for me as my little family and I grew through this transition. And I found that what was most meaningful to me right then was being with our infant son and healing my body.

So, through that realistic, values-aligned lens, I shifted my priorities. As Noah grew, eventually five hours became ten, and I shifted and adjusted my way through the phases of early motherhood. Every day, reminding myself, “I’m in a transition. I’m in a transition. I’m in a transition.”

And when I found myself comparing my handful of work hours to what I had been doing and accomplishing before my son was born – or to the colleague who was planning her new business from the hospital after her second child was born – I reminded myself, “I’m in a transition. This is what is realistic for me right now.”

Still, it meant that I was bringing in less money than we had anticipated, and as I shifted and adjusted in life and business, our family finances shifted and adjusted, too. “I’m in a transition. This is the path that aligns with my values and priorities.”

The truth is, we’re not always growing. We’re not always doing more and making more, year after year. We all face ups and downs in life and in money. These times of transition are a liminal space between what was and what is, a space to shift and adjust.

It can be incredibly difficult, even painful sometimes, to hold space for the reality of what is when it isn’t what we expected it to be.

And it can take a little while before we’re able to honor that truth or even to realize that we’re in a transition. Life can change in a moment, but we’re only human, and our brains, our bodies, and emotions need processing time to catch up.

Perhaps you’re navigating a challenging health issue, mourning the loss of a beloved, or welcoming a new baby into your family.

If you find yourself struggling and comparing yourself to who you used to be, what you used to be able to do, or what other folks in similar circumstances are achieving, please remind yourself, “I’m in a transition.”

Do a Body Check-In. Take a deep breath, or a few, and ask yourself, “what is realistic for me right now?”

What needs to be tended to?

What expectations need to be adjusted with compassion?

Sit with your values, with what feels most meaningful to you in this phase of your life, and gently, lovingly shift your priorities into alignment.

Slowly, but surely, practicing this intentional awareness will expand your capacity to hold space for yourself and what is, even when things don’t go according to plan.

So, please, be oh so patient, gentle, and compassionate with yourself here. Allow yourself to grieve for what you expected, or planned, or hoped for. Take the time and space you need to allow this transitional phase of your life to unfold with grace.

If you would like some more support on how to work with big money and life transitions, listen to this interview right here, and give yourself permission to shift what needs to be shifted as you navigate the ebbs and flows of life and money.

With my dearest wishes,

P.S. My books are available everywhere online and in many local bookstores as well.

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