When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Much of life involves things that did not go your way. A wise person learns how to deal with those situations.


Not much happens by accident. You should assess what happened in two dimensions.

  1. Strategic. What did I expect?
  2. Tactical. What did I do?

Strategic. Many failures are not really a failure, they are instead the reasonable outcome from a beginning condition. The error is to have unreasonable expectations. Maybe you thought earning 16% on your investments would happen. Over a few months, maybe even a couple of years it might, but in general that’s closer to magic than reason.

Maybe you overlooked an important variable. Something like I can never be laid off, or never be sick. It is a useful exercise to address your assumptions. especially the implicit ones. Always ask yourself what must be true for this set of steps to work out. Don’t forget costs of investing and taxes.

How about personal debt. How connected are you to current interest rates. If they double, then what?

Tactics. How did you go about it? How thoroughly did you assess your options. Was your choice of method as good as it could be or did it have obvious issues. Maybe a tip from a bartender.

Were you committed and follow through, or did you wander from the the way you thought you should address the question.

The most valuable question

Life doesn’t always work as you expect. The question becomes, “Okay, now what?” You have two choices.

  1. You can buy into an excuse, or
  2. You can buy into a solution.

Buying into excuses is the victim solution. It is an ego thing. Perfect is a curse. Excusing what happened leads nowhere. It does not improve your knowledge or skill. It requires others to solve the problem for you. Be very reluctant to give up agency over your own life.

Buying into solutions leads to new approaches building on what you learn have a chance. Plan A might not work so on to plan B, then C or D, or whatever it takes to make it work. Think WD 40. The 40th worked. Edison tried over a thousand ways to build a light bulb.

If the goal is worth achieving, it is smart to change the method. It is not quitting. It is using better information to attack a goal.

Bits to take away.

Expecting things to work out exactly as planned is silly. Even under very narrow conditions, there are things that don’t work. “Risk is what’s left over when you think you’ve thought of everything” Carl Richards

The people with the most experience make the better decisions. You learn more from being wrong than from being right. Right more than a few times in a row makes you think you can’t be wrong.

You’re never a failure until you give up on the goal. Even then you may trade for a better goal. Methods can and should come and go.

Help me please. If you have found this useful, please subscribe and forward it to others.

I build strategy and fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways and alternate timing to achieve both spending and estate distribution goals. In the past I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning, have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email to don@moneyfyi.com

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