7 Smart Actions to Take When Things Go Wrong

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Let’s face it, life doesn’t always hand us a free ticket to the beach and an ice cream cone and say, “Hey, you’re awesome! Take the day off!” But you don’t have to take life’s blows sitting down. Here are 7 smart actions to take to make life better when things go wrong!

A woman's hand holding an ice cream cone at the beach with the sea beyond

Have you ever had one of those days (or weeks!) when everything just seems to go wrong? You don’t get the job you thought you had nailed the interview on, or you try to complete a project on time and totally miss the deadline because of circumstances beyond your control, or you get snowed in AND your back goes out, or the refrigerator dies or your car breaks down, or you end up spending 45 minutes stuck in traffic behind an accident and miss an important appointment, or any combination of the above and many more examples I’m sure you can think of.  

And when several of these things go wrong all at the same time it can just feel overwhelming, like the universe suddenly hates us or something.  

Cars in a traffic jam while it's snowing

My recent example…

I had a day like this last weekend when we were traveling. I won’t even go into all the things that went wrong. It was so frustrating I don’t even want to relive it by writing it down. Just suffice it to say I ended up in tears more than once. And you could say that “O.K. it’s over with, just get on with your life.” But there are some physical aftereffects that I’m suffering from that don’t make that so easy.  

The capper of that day where everything went wrong was that the next day I realized I had been bitten by bedbugs the night before. Have you ever been bitten by bed bugs?!? Trust me, it’s NOT fun and man do they itch! The welts don’t come out until several hours and sometimes days after you’ve been bitten.  So that’s why I didn’t realize it until the next day. 

And BTW the hotel is part of a popular mid-price hotel chain so not a “dump.” AND we had stayed in this exact hotel 6 or 7 times before. So now I’m wondering how I’ll ever travel confidently and stay in hotels again. But that’s a question for another post. 

Anyway, while the crying helped get rid of some of the tension I was feeling (although it probably added to my husband’s tension, poor guy) there are other positive things you can do to help you get through those times when one thing after another just seems to keep going wrong. 

BONUS! At the end of this post there is a link to FREE printables you can download to remind you of these 7 smart actions along with a page of quotes you can cut apart and carry with you as reminders!

On to the 7 Actions:

A mom and dad and 2 sons on a roller coaster

1) Remember that life will always have its ups and downs. 

It would be so awesome if everything in life went perfectly. But that’s just not the way life is. If we have unrealistic expectations that our lives should be totally without discomfort or disappointment, we are really setting ourselves up for a whole bunch of frustration.

Do what you can to stop, take a breath, and realize that this thing that “went wrong” is just part of the flow of life. Try not to resist it. It’s in the resistance that the suffering occurs. Relax as much as you can into the situation and know that this too shall pass. 

2) If we’ve learned a lesson then the experience wasn’t wasted. 

Things will go wrong. I’m sure we’re all old enough and wise enough to realize that by now. So, don’t feel like a failure if things go wrong. Chalk it up to experience and try to learn something from it.

Maybe you didn’t get that job you wanted. What can you learn from the experience? What can you do differently next time? Sometimes it can be hard to figure out what the lesson is supposed to be. Don’t worry. You may not know right away. Just trust that there is a lesson and you’ll eventually know what it is.  

“If one dream should fall into a thousand pieces, never be afraid to pick one of those pieces up and begin again.” -Flavia Weedn 

Woman sitting on the edge of a mountain with her hands in the air

 3) Sometimes NOT getting what we want is the BEST thing that could happen. 

I bet if you think back you’ll be able to remember something you wanted as a child or something that you wanted to happen as a teen or young adult that didn’t happen and in time you realized, whew, you’d had a lucky escape! I can think of several instances of this. But here’s just one.

A number of years ago I had 2 awesome interviews with a company I wanted to work with and was sure after nailing the second interview that I’d be offered the position. I was pretty disappointed when I didn’t get it.  

Within 2 weeks, however, I found another position that actually suited me much better and after a couple of interviews, I got the job! It was really a great fit for me. And I never would have found the perfect job for me if I had gotten the other job. I would have been so focused on getting settled into that position I would have totally missed out on the job that was the right one for me.

So be patient. Sometimes “no” is the best answer you can get from God or the Universe. It means that better things are in store for you. 

 4) Focus on the positive.  

Even if you can’t see the lesson in the thing that just went wrong and even if you don’t yet see how it was for the best, you can shift your focus to what is going right in your life. If a lot of stuff seems to be going wrong then this might seem pretty difficult. You might have to focus on just one or two little things.

Maybe your best friend is really supportive of you. Or maybe your apartment is in a good location. Or maybe you like your singing voice. Or maybe you have the sweetest dog or cat. Or maybe you can appreciate your own strength and ability to stick to it during the tough times so you can come out the other side.

Be grateful for all those positive things in your life and totally start writing them down. I’m a big believer in gratitude list. You can get a great gratitude list cheat sheet here.  

5) Practice good self-care. 

When things seem to be going wrong it can be so tempting to work harder and try harder to make things right. Didn’t get that promotion at work? Try putting in another 10 or 20 hours of work a day. Didn’t meet someone else’s expectations of you? Try to do more for them to make up for it. You get the picture. It can be so tempting to just keep pushing ourselves.

But when things go wrong it’s especially important to take care of ourselves. Yes. STOP. Stop trying so hard. Stop blaming yourself. Stop beating yourself up. Take a break. Give it a rest. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself time to sleep a little bit more. Go for a walk in the fresh air. Eat healthy foods that you like. Do something fun even if it is just for 30 minutes and it’s watching a rerun of a comedy you love or reading a book. Take care of yourself.  

6) Read or watch something positive. 

There are so many good books, blog posts, podcasts and TedTalks out there that can bring some positive energy to you when you are feeling down or discouraged. If your head is full of negativity, it’s almost impossible to just stop thinking negatively unless you substitute positive thoughts for the negative ones.

You don’t need to read a whole book for this to work. I keep a book that has positive messages in it by my bedside. I’ve read this book from cover to cover multiple times already. So now I just open it to a random page each night and just read a couple of paragraphs. It helps put my mind in a good place before I go to sleep. If I’m having a bad day I’ll go to that same book and open it up and read a little bit of it. It really helps stop all the negative self-talk and worry and puts my mind in a better place.  

Bonus tip: Write down a quote or sentence from the book on a piece of paper and carry it with you throughout the day. Read it several times throughout the day and especially any time you start to feel down again. It will help. 

A woman looking at a day planner on a crowded desk

7) How important is it? 

A lot of times the things that are going wrong, while important, are not necessarily the things that will matter in the long run. I’m not talking about getting bad news at the doctor’s office here.  That IS important, big picture stuff.  

I mean the everyday disappointments and frustrations that life throws at us. They matter today. But will they really matter that much 5 years for now or even 3 years from now? A lot of the things that disappoint or discourage us won’t even seem like that big of a deal in 6 months. So ask yourself, in the big picture scheme of things, “how important is this?”  

Look at your big goals and be willing to admit that maybe things didn’t go the way you had planned, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find an alternate route. Think big picture. Think possible alternatives. And remember, what seems like the “alternate route” may have been the right one all along.  

When things just seem to be going wrong right and left, you now have tools. You don’t have to stay stuck in that frustrated, discouraged, disappointed place. Yes, give yourself time to feel the feelings. They are valid. BUT, they are just feelings. They don’t define you. They don’t own you. You can choose to do things to get yourself into a better place! 

Don’t Forget to click here to Download Your Free Cheat Sheets

They will help you remember these 7 smart actions you can take to make life better when things go wrong. Plus – there is also a page with inspiring quotes you can cut out and carry with you to keep you motivated and in a positive frame of mind.  Because we all can use a little help now and then!

If you’d like to start being more intentional about putting “calm” into your life. Check out this post on 3 Simple Habits for a Calmer & Happier Life.

If life is feeling a bit too chaotic these days, then The Seven Days of Simplicity Action Plan can help.

This post may contain some affiliate links for your convenience. That means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission. Don’t worry though. It won’t cost you a penny more! You can read my affiliate disclosure here. 

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