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When Anticipated Plans Change

Have you ever emotionally invested in a plan, counted down the days, marked it on your calendar, and eagerly awaited its arrival — only for the plan to change or fall apart?

When this occurs, we may be disappointed and frustrated.

I, for one, always have had a little difficulty “going with the flow.” As a highly sensitive person, I become emotionally affected — rather easily — when a plan doesn’t pan out.

But such is life, right? Sometimes plans get rerouted and we have to be able to mentally adjust and move on.

And although “going with the flow” doesn’t come organically to me, I do process the situation at hand, seeking ways to make the adjustment a bit easier.

Here’s the two steps I practice:

Allow time for catharsis. Instead of suppressing feelings, I grant myself a little time to stay in my body and remain present with my emotions, even if these emotions are not positive.

I may vent to a friend. I may journal, fleshing out ideas and perspectives. I may cry. Whatever form the catharsis may take, I typically need to experience this step first and foremost before proceeding.

Lower expectations. According to a 2014 article published on Today, lowering expectations could be the key component to happiness. Researchers conducted a study and concluded that happiness was garnered if things were moving along better than expected.

“It is often said that you will be happier if your expectations are lower,” Senior Research Associate Dr. Robb Rutledge,” who led the study, said in a statement. “We find that there is some truth to this: Lower expectations make it more likely that an outcome will exceed those expectations and have a positive impact on happiness.”

“It’s all about managing the ‘aspirational gap,’ the gap between what is and what could be, what you have and what you expect. It’s all about expectation management,” Jeremy E. Sherman, Ph.D., wrote in a 2014 Psychology Today article.

I’m not one to eliminate the idea of expectation altogether; I tend to think that having a sense of hope is a natural byproduct of the human experience.

“(It’s) not that you should walk around gloomy all the time,” Today’s article stated. “Having expectations at all — say, for a lunch date with a friend — can lift your spirits.”

However, lowering expectations infuses awareness into the moment. It’s acknowledging the fact that plans can be taken with ‘a grain of salt;’ sometimes, for one reason or another, what was once greatly anticipated may not work out. And that’s just reality, and that’s okay.

Vacation photo available from Shutterstock

When Anticipated Plans Change

Lauren Suval

Lauren Suval studied print journalism and psychology at Hofstra University, and she is a writer based in New York. Her work has been featured on Thought Catalog, Catapult Community, and other online publications. Lauren's e-book “Coping With Life’s Clutter” and her collection of personal essays, “The Art Of Nostalgia,” can both be found on Amazon. Lauren's latest E-Book, "Never Far Behind," a collection of poetry, is available on Smashwords, Apple Books, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. She loves to be followed on social media, including her Facebook Writing Page,

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APA Reference
Suval, L. (2018). When Anticipated Plans Change. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 30, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 13 Nov 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.