Sometimes, things don’t work out the way they are supposed to. Sometimes, it’s not even in the same neighborhood of “supposed to.” What then?
Someone once said, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. That’s a pretty good analogy to life.
When things don’t work out the way they are supposed to, you adapt and move on. What options do you really have, besides beating yourself on the chest and crying “oh, woe is me! Poor pitiful me!”
A lot of people have been faced with the reality that their plans and reality weren’t in the same neighborhood over the past few years, as jobs have disappeared, retirement funds have been eaten by the economic issues that have plagued us all, and expenses rise despite the official federal stance that inflation doesn’t exist. Money, money, money, right?
Downsizing is one of the ways that many people have coped, and that is definitely something that doesn’t always pan out exactly the way you planned. In our case, that is definitely true. We have been hit with some serious financial drains such as health problems, major vehicle repairs, etc.
That has meant that a temporary solution (our current location) went from short term to mid term to I-don’t-know-when term. We’ve put purchase plans on hold, although we do still “look” it’s not in a serious manner, as in serious enough to call a realtor for specifics about a property. Maybe it is partly because the “perfect” property hasn’t appeared in our line-of-sight, and maybe its because we’re afraid that we cannot qualify for a loan or manage the purchase right now. Travel plans aren’t in the works either, not with gasoline hovering at $4 a gallon locally, and higher elsewhere. Our need for a heavier duty vehicle to tow the travel trailer would mean purchasing another vehicle, one that guzzled gasoline like there was no tomorrow, and would increase our monthly expenses with additional maintenance, insurance, and license fees too. At this point, we’d use a rented truck to move the travel trailer, which is expensive, but not as expensive as maintaining a second vehicle year round.
Little space, little privacy, financial struggles…all of this can quickly add up to trouble for a relationship. This is when it is more than important to talk about fears, concerns, issues, and finances openly, in addition to discussing one’s emotional response to the issues at hand. Anger, resentment, disappointment…these are also real feelings and they really need addressing as well. Trying to ignore them or sweep them under the rug is not going to make them go away.
Humor is always an excellent coping tool. Granted, laughter won’t make the problems go away, but it can go a long ways towards helping us cope when plans don’t pan out and we’re disappointed, resentful, or even angry about it. At the same time, laughing at your partner isn’t exactly going to win you points. Be smart, be considerate of both your own and his/her feelings, and be mutually supportive. Learn to laugh together and shrug when things don’t work out with plan A, and start on plan B. Persistence and determination are always your allies as you face the “speed bumps” that are causing your plans to fall through.
Sometimes, our plans need adjusting too. We may have been less than realistic about our goal or plan. Perhaps we were counting on something occurring, out of our control, that didn’t happen on time or the way it was supposed to. Maybe we got denied for a permit to build, because the plans for construction didn’t meet the local criteria. That doesn’t mean you have to abandon your plans, but rather look for the solution.
If the plans didn’t meet the criteria for your building permit, find out what was wrong. Is it space? (Some areas have a minimum square footage requirement.) How is the space measured? Is it in the area of the foundation, the livable space, square footage of the home, or exactly how is it measured? How far are you off? Sometimes, adding a semi-detached shop/garage, patio, porch, etc. can get you over the hump without increasing the actual size of the home.
Is it construction technique? Were you planning a non-traditional construction method such as earth, straw bale, cordwood, bottles, etc.? Find out what it would take to get the method approved for construction.
Maybe its plumbing or electric or insulation or wind issues. Sometimes its a combination of things, such as a not-quite-traditional construction method, size, appearance, storm resistance, fire resistance, or utilities issue. They may require a septic system even if you planned on recycling gray water and using a composting toilet. Sometimes its electrical wiring, even when the home is off-grid and uses alternative energy only. Building code departments are not known for their flexibility, but if you address the issues one by one, there is also the possibility of a zoning variance.
Maybe its a financial crunch you are facing. Those too can be addressed, especially if you don’t wait until you are facing the destitute state. Leaving things go until the bank account is empty and your wallet holds a lone $20 bill is very poor planning. Living frugally helps stave off the wolf at the door, but even then, without income, the wolf WILL arrive. Seek out alternative income opportunities, whether its a part time job, a cash producing hobby, changing your investments, or applying for government aid such as food stamps, SSI, Social Security, Medicare, etc.
With each and every obstacle you face, breaking it down into manageable bites make the problem look a whole lot less like Mount Everest and much more like the speed bump it is. Desperately looking at a problem is more capable of freezing your mind into the deer in the headlights mindset than it is for finding a solution, and is definitely counter-productive. Break it into smaller pieces, as individual issues. Even with money, it’s much easier to find $200 to pay Company B than it is to find $2000 to pay the bills.
Most importantly, take care of your relationship. Your partner in life is your biggest asset, no matter what kind of obstacles you are facing. That partner is your cheering squad, your help-mate, your advisor, and your best friend, or should be. A lot of people, when faced with disappointment, stress, and financial woes, start looking around and thinking that the grass is greener on the other side of the road. Replacing your partner with a new one is not going to change anything for the better usually. (Okay, if they are persistent with creating problems, that’s another case…hopefully, you had a good relationship when you started the whole down sizing project!)
Relationships are an investment, and they require careful tending. Neglecting your partner or worse yet, blaming them needlessly, is a certain recipe for disaster. You started this together, and together you need to face the problems and failed plans along the way. No one else can begin to understand the trials and tribulations you have and will endure like your partner either. Plus, there is that old saying too, “Two heads are better than one.” Working together is definitely much better than a solo operation!