Are you where you expected to be 20 years ago? Are you doing what you thought you would be doing? Is your life today what you planned for it to be or envisioned it to be when you were younger? For some, there may be similarities. For a limited few, it may look exactly as you expected. For most, things look completely different than what they thought it might.

As a kid we dream of what we are going to be when we grow up. That changes as we get older and by the time we begin choosing our vocation or tackling life, we often are surprised with where we are and what is happening. Sometimes life has thrown us a curveball and we are dealing with a different set of circumstances than we expected. It could be the loss of someone in our life that is significant to us. The economy could have tanked or technology could have changed a field. We could have changes in our health or many other areas of our life.

These twists and turns do not just come prior to starting on our career journey, they continue to happen throughout our lifetime. The question is not whether you will face sudden changes or challenges. The question is usually how will you deal with them. Here are four ways that will help you navigate some of the challenges of life.

Margin

One of the reasons that sudden changes cause us so many problems is because we have no margin in our lives. We have every plate available spinning on a stick. When one of them needs attention it causes the other plates we have spinning to lose their balance. We leave no margin for error or change. Margin in our time, finances or health allows us to deal with sudden changes or challenges without creating a crisis in every other area of our life. Margin keeps everything from being an emergency because we have room to absorb the change.

Preparation

There is an old proverb that says “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. One of the reasons these twists and turns create such turmoil in our lives is because we have not prepared very well. There are things we can do before we get married that will make us a better spouse. We can prepare for the new job or promotion we desire. We can prepare our bodies with exercise and proper diet. We can prepare to retire both financially and the things we want to do with our time. We can prepare to be parents, leaders, business owners or any other thing we may attempt in our life. Not only that, we can continue to grow after we start down a path so that we stay prepared.

Determination

Sometimes we just need grit. I recently listened to a book about the importance of grit, or sheer determination, and the role in plays in success. Sometimes you just have to put your head down and be determined to endure for a little while. Determinations keeps us from giving up in the dips of life. You are not alone in facing challenges. Usually we can overcome them by just being willing to endure for a short period of time.

Flexibility

Stuff happens. I have heard that said a few different ways. One of the greatest qualities you can have when dealing with the challenges of life is to be flexible. Adaptability will allow you to work through the twists and turns of life without breaking or getting “bent out of shape”. Flexibility allows you to accommodate other people, new opportunities and emerging changes on the horizon. Flexibility in life will broaden relationships and allow you to experience more things than you could if everything was so rigid. There may be some things that you should not be flexible about, but they will be very limited.

You are not alone dealing with curveballs in your life. There are some ways that you can better deal with them. Don’t be overwhelmed. Be prepared.

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