How to Feel Happy When Plans Change

Updated August 28, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Maria Abada, LPC

It can be difficult to find happiness when your life plans change. Big changes – like your promotion getting pushed back at work, or the cancellation of your college graduation due to a health pandemic can make anyone feel disappointed, frustrated, and stressed. You may have to adjust to a new reality, which will likely take some time. It is understandable to feel a little stunned when you first receive the news of a big change in your life. In fact, this is an entirely rational response. This could be the right way for you to stand up, brush off your shoulders, and start fresh. For some guidance on how to feel happy when your plans have changed, continue reading this article.

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Bloom Where You Are Planted

Have you ever heard the saying “Bloom where you are planted”? The meaning of the phrase is that flowers try to flourish wherever they are placed and with whatever glimpse of sunshine that they have to work with. In other words, flowers, much like humans, do the best with the light that they have been given. You may not have been planted where you had envisioned yourself to be at this point. This could cause you to bloom later than you expected. You may have a few beautiful blossoms and a few thorns. All of these things help you shape your story and help mold you into the person that you are meant to be. At the end of the day, you can look back at your journey and focus on your days of growth. You can take comfort in the fact that you have made it this far and that sunnier days could be right around the corner. Soak up the bits and pieces that made you smile, take note of them, and do a similar thing the next time.

True happiness is a hard thing to define because it can look different for each person. If you try to compare your current situation to someone else’s, you may be left feeling upset or let down. Comparison spends its days trying to steal the joy of your big and small victories. Try not to compare the speed of your blossoming to that of others. Everyone is in different stages of their lives, and everyone’s life circumstances differ. It is incredibly important to focus on yourself and your personal progress. If you are struggling with this, try listing your little victories. This could help you feel like you are on your way to your destination. A sense of accomplishment, big or small, can help you feel happy about the progress you have made.

Grieve The Outcome You Planned

Grief is often associated with the loss of a loved one. It may sound odd to say you are grieving a situation that didn’t go as planned. However, when things don’t go as planned, it is not unusual to experience the same feelings associated with grief like anger and denial. Allowing yourself to feel this will likely help you adapt and move on. If you take some time to think through your loss, you may reach a state of acceptance with the way things worked out. This way, you will spend less time feeling let down or hurt, but somewhat understanding and even appreciative. Try to not feel bad about grieving the things that you spent so long working for or looking forward to. It is incredibly easy to spend your days counting down to a certain event, and that is not a bad thing. Anticipation for an event is a positive emotion, and this let down should not prevent you from being excited about future events. Allow yourself the time to process the change, so you are less likely to be hesitant about feeling excited later on.

The idea of grieving a changed plan can apply to many situations in one’s life. Whether if it is being furloughed from your job, or the cancellation of a vacation you have been planning for months, you should still take time to grieve. Mourn the loss of the control you so badly wanted to feel over your plan. And remember, it is normal, and even healthy, to feel negative emotions about any change in your life.

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Continue To Find Happiness In Future Plans

When things don’t work out as we hoped, it can leave us feeling hesitant about making future plans. You might feel that you are placing too much hope in something that is somewhat out of your control. For your next plan, go about it with a positive outlook, but leave room for flexibility as things may not go the way you expect. Then, you can allow yourself to get excited about your future plans again. If you feel free from the chains of your worry about the possibility of a change in your plans, it could potentially make you feel at peace and excited for your future again.

Take The Healing Process One Step At A Time

When you are grieving, try to take the process one step at a time. Give yourself the time to process. Take notice of where you are in the process. Going about your healing process, one moment at a time, can help you feel more secure. Taking things one step at a time can help you feel happy with your current situation again. This is because you are genuinely slowing down enough to process during that single moment.

Although your plans may have been turned upside down, you should not have to feel like your details leading up to the plan have gone to waste—your details matter. Fixating on the things that are going right can help you stay focused on what matters.

Think About What Makes You, You

It is important to think about who you are and what makes you truly you. What makes you happy? What activities bring you joy? Who makes you feel confident or secure when you are around them? Spending your time intentionally making yourself happy is one of the best things you can do when trying to find happiness in the midst of changed plans. This will be a beneficial step to recuperating and finding yourself again.

According to Dr. Simon N. Young, the co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience, social support has an impact on your serotonin levels, which is your happy hormone. With that being said, being with people who make you happy can boost your attitude and help you feel like yourself again. Taking some time to invest in your happiness can sometimes be the remedy for an anxious heart. If you like being outside, you could try an activity outside to get your mind off of things for even just a second. If grabbing a coffee with a friend is a good break for you, then you should try that. At the end of the day, the person that you are on the inside does not have to change when your plans have been altered. So, do what makes you feel like the real you.

There Is A Reason For The Change

Plans often change due to circumstances out of your control. It could be helpful to take comfort in the fact that there is most likely a reason why the change has occurred. Sometimes changes seem horrible at first but then are later revealed as blessings in disguise. There could be a sense of oddly found happiness in the fact that a bad situation may have been avoided. Sometimes reasons are beyond your control. Sometimes the changes are consequences of our mistakes. Can you find satisfaction in knowing why your direction has changed? No matter what you believe in, try to take comfort in knowing that the universe tends to work out just as it should.

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The idea of wondering the reason behind the change of plans is reminiscent of how some children have a constant desire to keep asking, “Why?” over and over. They probably do this to help gain a better sense of understanding for themselves. They want to know the reasons why they can’t have what they want. No matter the age of a person, the desire to understand the reason is typically present. Breaking down why things went in a different direction and what the root cause was can help iron out the facts in your mind. For some people, there is happiness in understanding and unhappiness in feeling left in the dark. If that is the same for you, try to seek an understanding of the changes.

The Outcome Could Be Even Better Than Expected

Some of the best inventions came into this world because of a switch-up in the original game plan. Do you like potato chips? Or does someone you love like potato chips? Potato chips are a highly popular salty snack. In the article, “9 Things Invented or Discovered By Accident“, it discusses how potato chips came to be. In 1853, their inventor, George Crum, had a plan to sell fried potatoes, which did not go as he had hoped. He prepared the potatoes in a certain way and had planned to continue doing so. His plan was thrown a wrench when a customer continued to send back the potatoes he had bought from George Crum. The customer complained numerous times about the sogginess and lack of crunch. This led to Crum altering the cooking process and changing how he planned to continue selling his goods. He switched his cooking method and the recipe for his original product and created potato chips. Fast forward to now, potato chips are, without a doubt, some of the most well-loved snack foods. Now, making chips is not the most important process in the world, but it is an excellent example of how changed plans can lead to great things. George Crum sold more and more chips and created a legacy that remains to this day.

Outcomes can be changed by even the slightest change in plans. Although the evaluation of whether someone deems a result suitable or bad is up to the eye of the beholder, happy outcomes could occur from taking a different path than initially mapped out. You never know, your next outcome could lead to your next big success! Depending on the scenario, it could keep you safer than the original plan, or make you happier than you had ever dreamed of.

You Are Not Alone

You are probably not the only person currently experiencing the disappointment of changed plans. Your intended process may have switched gears, but there is a chance that you are not the only one affected. A lot of times, there is comfort in numbers. You never know when your change of plans may help someone else. Everyone’s paths in life differ. Some are bumpier than others. As mentioned above, spending time with others and being around those who make you happy can boost your serotonin levels. So, take time to express how you feel to others. They might feel the same way that you do. Although things seem different now or are different now, there could be happiness found in talking it out with someone who feels the same way that you do. Even if no one can relate to your precise circumstance, chances are that they potentially have experienced a similar emotion in their own way. Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, it can release tension to vent to other people. Happiness and relief can be brought to the surface by relating to someone else.

Your Worth Is Not Less

Your worth in yourself and, in the eyes of others, should not waiver because of a change in plans for yourself. According to Dr. Kristen Neff, in an article from PsychAlive, self-worth is reliant on self-compassion. So, giving yourself compassion during your grieving process is crucial to improving your self-esteem. Someone else’s doings can affect your plans too. Keep your head held high. Whether you believe that you messed up or failed yourself, you should try to understand that the worth of you as a human being is not considered less.

You Can Decide Your Future Plans

Sometimes you are the one changing your plans. Sometimes you change them because you want to, and sometimes you change them because you need to. There can be joy in improving your own plan because you feel you have the reins on your plan and your life. You may need to alter things to help yourself at the end of the plan. At times, changing gears can help you feel happier. Switching end goals can help you experience more happiness. Other times, you may switch up your plan because you are not happy with the original. Find joy in your future plans, and make the best decisions you can. If you look over your current situation and make the best choice possible, you may have fewer regrets about your journey along the way.

Get Help From A Professional When Needed

If you continue to have issues learning how to feel happy when your plans change, consider hiring a licensed counselor. A counselor will help you cope with the change in your plans and assist you in healing healthily. If you prefer to do counseling sessions online, BetterHelp has hundreds of professional counselors who can help you. Available at an affordable rate and being accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, it is an excellent solution for people who are learning how to feel happy with changed plans.


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