9 habits of people who stay strong, even when life doesn’t go to plan

Tina Fey by Tina Fey | March 28, 2024, 5:16 pm

Life has a way of throwing curveballs at us when we least expect it. As the saying goes, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”.

Here’s the thing though – some people seem to handle these curveballs with grace and resilience, no matter how unexpected or devastating. These people remain strong, even when their life doesn’t go according to plan.

How do they do it? Well, it turns out that they have certain habits in common.

Exploring these habits can provide a roadmap for navigating life’s unexpected turns. So, I’ve compiled a list of 9 habits of people who stay strong, even when life doesn’t go to plan.

Let’s dive in and start learning from their wisdom and resilience.

1) Embrace change

Life is unpredictable, and sometimes, things just don’t go as planned. The people who stay strong when life gets tough are those who embrace change rather than resist it.

Take it from me, resisting change only leads to stress and disappointment. When you fight against the current of life, you end up feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.

On the other hand, embracing change means accepting that life won’t always go according to plan. It’s about understanding that curveballs are a part of life and learning to adapt and adjust your plans accordingly.

The most resilient people don’t just accept change – they welcome it. They see it as an opportunity for growth and learning, rather than a setback.

When life throws you a curveball, try to see it as an opportunity, rather than a roadblock.

Embrace the change and move forward with resilience and strength.

It’s not about what happens to you, but how you respond to it that truly matters.

2) Practice gratitude

It’s so easy to get consumed by the negatives when life doesn’t go as planned. This is something I’ve personally experienced.

A few years back, I was made redundant from a job I loved. It was completely unexpected and left me feeling lost and unsure about my future. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, I decided to practice gratitude.

Every day, I started writing down three things that I was grateful for in my life. Some days, it was as simple as ‘I am grateful for my health’ or ‘I am grateful for the support of my friends and family’.

This simple habit shifted my mindset from focusing on the negative to appreciating the positive aspects of my life. It didn’t change the situation, but it changed how I felt about it.

Practicing gratitude does not negate the challenges we face. Instead, it allows us to find joy and positivity amidst adversity. It’s a powerful habit that can help you stay strong when life doesn’t go according to plan.

3) Stay physically active

Staying strong isn’t just about mental fortitude, it’s also about physical strength. Regular physical activity can improve your mood, reduce anxiety, and help you manage stress more effectively.

Interestingly, a Harvard study found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%.

Even when life gets tough and you don’t feel like doing anything at all, try to get up and get moving.

Whether it’s going for a run, taking a walk in the park, or even just doing a little bit of stretching at home – any form of physical activity can help.

A healthy body can lead to a healthier mind. And a healthier mind is better equipped to handle life’s unexpected turns.

4) Cultivate a strong support system

When life doesn’t go as planned, it’s easy to feel alone in your struggles. But having a strong support system in place can make all the difference.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you need a large group of friends or an extended family. A support system can consist of just one or two close confidantes whom you trust and can lean on during tough times.

These are the people you can be honest with about your struggles, who will listen without judgment and offer words of encouragement and advice.

Maintaining strong, supportive relationships is crucial for resilience. It’s comforting to know that you have people who care about you and will be there for you, no matter what life throws your way.

Make time for the people who lift you up, and don’t be afraid to reach out to them when you need a helping hand or a listening ear.

5) Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and engaged with what we’re doing at the moment, free from distraction or judgment.

Practicing mindfulness can help us stay grounded, even when life throws us off course. It allows us to focus on the present instead of worrying about the past or future, which can often add to our stress and anxiety.

You can practice mindfulness in many ways – through meditation, mindful eating, mindful walking, or simply by taking a few moments each day to focus on your breath.

By training your mind to stay in the present, you can gain a sense of peace and control, even when life doesn’t go according to plan.

This habit helps us to see difficulties more clearly and respond to them more effectively.

6) Show kindness to others

In the midst of our own struggles, it’s easy to become self-focused. But sometimes, the best way to lift our own spirits is by lifting someone else’s.

Showing kindness to others, even in the smallest ways, can have a profound impact not only on them but also on us. It can provide a sense of purpose and remind us of our own worth.

Whether it’s helping a neighbour with their groceries, lending an ear to a friend in need, or just offering a smile to a stranger, these small acts of kindness can create ripples of positivity.

When life doesn’t go as planned and you’re feeling down, try extending a hand to someone else.

You might be surprised at how good it makes you feel too.

Showing kindness is not just about making others happy; it’s a reminder that even in our toughest times, we have the capacity to bring light into someone else’s life.

7) Never stop learning

I’ve always been an avid reader, always curious about the world and how things work. But it wasn’t until I hit a major roadblock in my career that I truly understood the value of continuous learning.

With a sudden abundance of free time on my hands, I started reading more, attending webinars, and even took up some online courses. I discovered new interests and reignited old ones.

This period of learning didn’t just equip me with new skills; it also helped me regain my confidence.

It reminded me that setbacks are just opportunities for comebacks.

When life doesn’t go as planned, don’t see it as a dead end. See it as a chance to learn something new, to grow, to evolve.

Because as long as we’re learning, we’re moving forward. And that’s what staying strong is all about.

8) Maintain a positive outlook

Staying strong when life doesn’t go according to plan isn’t easy. It’s natural to feel down and disheartened. But those who remain resilient in the face of adversity often share one common trait: they maintain a positive outlook.

Having a positive outlook doesn’t mean ignoring the negative or pretending everything is fine when it’s not. It’s about acknowledging the situation for what it is, but choosing to focus on the positives, no matter how small.

It’s about believing that better days are ahead and that every situation, no matter how bleak it may seem, holds a lesson or an opportunity.

A positive outlook can provide the motivation and energy needed to keep going, even when times are tough.

So, try and find the silver lining in every cloud, no matter how dark it may seem.

9) Believe in yourself

This is perhaps the most crucial habit of all. To stay strong when life doesn’t go as planned, you must believe in yourself.

Believe in your ability to overcome obstacles, to learn from your mistakes, and to forge a path forward, no matter how winding or rocky it may be.

Your belief in yourself is the foundation upon which all other habits are built. It’s the driving force that keeps you moving forward, even when the going gets tough.

Hold onto that belief, nurture it, and let it guide you through the ups and downs of life.

Because if you believe in yourself, there’s nothing you can’t handle.

Final reflection: Strength is a journey

The human spirit is incredibly resilient. It’s not about never falling, but about getting up every time we do fall.

It’s worth noting that the Japanese have a concept known as “Kintsugi” or “golden repair”.

It’s the art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.

The philosophy behind it is to treat breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

Similarly, when life doesn’t go according to plan, we can choose to see our cracks and breaks not as imperfections, but as parts of our unique story.

They are reminders of our strength and resilience, golden seams that add to our beauty and character.

Practicing the habits discussed in this article may not prevent life’s curveballs, but they can equip us with the resilience and strength to face them head-on.

It’s about realizing that strength doesn’t come from what you can do, but from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn’t.

As we navigate through life’s unexpected turns, may we remember that each setback is not a dead end but a detour to something potentially better.

And in the process, may we become stronger, more compassionate, and more appreciative of the journey that is life.

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