When Stuff Happens!

Bumper sticker: Stuff Happens!

You have probably seen a bumper sticker or poster somewhere that says, “Stuff Happens!”. Sometimes the language is less PC, but the message is the same. It conveys a true enough statement about real life including our financial experiences.

Real World Dynamics

Despite our best intentions, our plans often get interrupted. No matter how well we plan and prepare, real life can disrupt our plans.

We have no option but to deal with the stuff that inevitably will happen. But success with our money and with all of life’s experiences does not depend so much on avoiding such disruptions—although that is often our best path—as it does on learning how to deal with them effectively.

What should we do when we face these experiences? Is there any way to soften the blows that life deals out? Is it even possible to be prepared since we can never know what is coming?

Every day people get fired. Every day people have their identities stolen and face challenging problems to solve dealing with banks and the government. Every day people just like you and I have to face these and a thousand other situations that can either destroy or slow them down, temporarily.

When these things happen to us, we cannot be stopped if we are personally prepared to deal with them. In fact, we may find ourselves in a better situation afterwards than we were before if we look for the opportunities, the silver lining as it were, in our experience.

Get Ready for Life

Fortunately, there is much that we can do, and if we prepare our minds and our life situation intelligently, life will work out much better. But how? Here are several things we can do.

Prepare Mentally
Simply by adopting a positive attitude about setbacks can make a real difference. If we are taken aback by unpleasant turns in life we may react in unproductive ways. If we acknowledge the inevitability of them and expect to deal with them productively there is no way to stop us from coping effectively.
Take Preemptive Steps to Be Ready
Financially, we can do many things to avoid unexpected calamity: get out of debt and stay that way, set aside an adequate emergency fund, develop a skill set that permits vocational changes if need be, and take steps that can increase our options when things go wrong.
Face the Inevitable Head On
The longer you procrastinate taking on problems the worse they grow, almost always. Do not image they will go away on their own. Even if it means taking a financial loss, changing jobs, selling your home, or giving up (at least temporarily) on some personal goals, just do it.
Attack Your Problems with Enthusiasm
Know that you can deal with life and get on with it. Set priorities. Take one step at a time. Deny negativism any role in your thinking. Put in some extra time and effort. Make any adjustments you need to make even if some may be unpleasant. Be willing to adjust your plans for the future. Different does not have to be less satisfying. Not everything is within our control, but much is. Do what you can and get it over with.

Different does not have to be less satisfying. Not everything is within our control, but much is. Look for opportunities as much as you look at problems. But whatever else you do, whenever you are faced with unexpected stuff, do what you can and get it over with. Then move on.

When Stuff Happens, Look Forward

Sign: Detour Ahead

Detours are not meant to deny us an opportunity to reach our goal. They just mean that we must go around some obstacle. For the most part at least, the unexpected things that happen to us are detours and not outright roadblocks.

Most of the time, the stuff that sets us back could have been avoided. We should all take whatever steps we can to be prepared for the smaller issues of life, especially financial ones. If you depend on an operating car for your work, a mechanical problem or tire failure should not set you back if you have money set aside to deal with such emergencies.

Other times, we have to deal with more serious issues. Health problems can often fall into this category. If we cannot continue with our present employment because of ill health we must make adjustments that are not pleasant. If so, just get on with it and figure out some path forward.

Most of the time, even the most challenging problems are solvable. With a little effort and determination we can get through and past even the most frustrating events in life with a positive attitude and willingness to do whatever it takes.

Dealing With Stuff Successfully

I hope that in your life you are not dealing with any really overwhelming problems, such as major illness or financial setbacks. But whether you are or not, remember that over time stuff happens to us all, often in unexpected and unpleasant ways. Fortunately it is not what happens to us but how we deal with it that counts most.

What determines how well we will deal with the unpleasant stuff that happens in our lives depends on how well prepared we are to take it on. There are many ways we need to be prepared—maintaining our health, getting adequate sleep, and gaining the know how in advance, for instance. But being financially prepared is one of the most important factors in determining our potential for dealing with the stuff that happens in our lives. Take the steps you need to take now to be prepared for the stuff that comes your way.