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How to get yourself moving when life is not going as planned — but is going as it should

We often face difficulties in our lives.  We have the best made plans, goals and deadlines, but things don’t go as planned.  But life has a way of flipping over the proverbial apple cart. People don’t do as expected. Marriages don’t last.  Kids don’t act as if we’ve taught them any home training. Opportunities don’t pan out.  We lose jobs and relationships that we thought we’d have forever. Good things may come to those who wait, but waiting can make you downright sad! It can be frustrating and discouraging as you wait for your ship to come in. This can cause you to lose focus and become distracted from making the progress that you desire. When this happens, you need to ask yourself five powerful questions to generate the action you need to get yourself going and lift the funk that may be dragging you down.


What can I control?

There are many external factors that affect our lives.  Although the universe conspires in our favor, it does act at our will.  While you may be able to exert your influence, you can’t control other people or situations.  It is important to focus on what you can control.  This can not only give you a realistic view of what you can do but can empower you to focus on what you can do.  Take action on what’s in your control.  Release responsibility for what – and who – you cannot control. This frees up your mind space, energy and schedule to invest in things that bring you joy.   

What can I do now?

While you may not be able to anything about what’s plaguing you, you can shift your focus elsewhere. Instead of hurrying up and waiting, you can take advantage of the time to create. It takes the time it takes. You can’t rush the process. Just as you cannot rush the seasons in nature, you can’t rush the seasons in your life. What you can do is focus on what you can do now, in this season. 

What do I want to do regardless of my circumstances that has an ROI?

While you may be in limbo, you really are not. This is really your ramp up time. Begin looking for the next adventure in your life. Get caught up on your reading and personal development. Begin cultivating new relationships that will yield new experiences. There really is no such thing as downtime. There is the time that you have to do the things that you need and want to do to position yourself for success. You should have a downtime plan and shift you focus to your list of activities that position you for what’s next.

What Do I Need to Do?

There may be things that you want to do right now that are keeping you from doing what you need to do. It is important to prioritize, reprioritize, and maximize the time that you have. Sometimes we can be so focused on the future event we are waiting on that we fail to devote time to the present demands. Distract yourself by using the time to take care of necessary tasks that have been put on the back burner. You’ll relieve yourself of the stress of worrying about them when your business breakthrough does happen.

What Would I Be Doing Even If Everything Was Going Exactly as Planned?

Your waiting period is also a good time to recalibrate your goals and work on future planning. Do some vision-casting for where you want your life to be next year, in the next three years, five years and beyond. If all of your goals lined up and happened right now, how would you handle them? Are you equipped? Do you need to expand to be able to grow? Imagine how your life will be when it all comes together and not only inspire yourself but prepare yourself.

The Power of the Questions Is in Your Actions!

Now that you have asked yourself these powerful questions, give them power by deciding what you are going to do with your answers. Formulate a concrete idea of what you truly want and develop a strategy around how you are going to get there. The power of the questions lies in the potency of your action. This is not just mere projection of the success you desire, but preparation, planning, and positioning for getting there.

Now you need to shift your own atmosphere. When things are not going as planned, you can create an atmosphere of negativity. It is natural to be dismayed, but don’t let disappointment derail you. Create an environment that promotes success even when progress is not apparent. Being in community with like-minded people who can inspire, motivate, and empower you can help you develop a healthy perspective and healthy habits. Create a mastermind of people who can stimulate ideas, creativity and innovation. Commit to building relationships that elevate your mindset and potential.

Regardless of the environments that we create, we’ve got to do the work. Create a daily success routine that frames your mind and day for success. Mediation, personal development reading, and exercise are great ways to position yourself for success. Commit to a relentless pursuit of excellence regardless of circumstances. Excellence is not found in our circumstances, but in our habits. Identify how you operate when you are at the top of your game and map out how you produced your success in the past and create systems and processes that you can replicate and refine to produce the results you desire more consistently. Finally, define success for yourself based on where you want to go. Begin with the phrase, I know I’m successful whenand fill in the blanks. This will help you set milestone accomplishments that challenge you to keep going when it seems that nothing is going as planned. 

When you adopt a perspective that focuses on being an active participant in shaping your life outcomes, you will find that really things are going exactly as they should.

Stephanie D. Barnes is an attorney, author, speaker and career strategist. She can be reached at or visit


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