When Life Laughs at Your Best Laid Plans

This month found me exploring the country of Japan for the first time.

Those of you who know me won’t be surprised to learn that I did a whole lot of planning…or, as I lovingly called it, “Japlanning”…in the months leading up to the trip.  And that Japlanning paid off.


There were a few moments, however, when things didn’t quite go according to the Japlan. When, it seemed, life seemed to laugh at it. Heartily.

Like when we walked a looooong way to get into the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.


Or when my eagerly anticipated stewed fishcake lunch had a texture I couldn’t quite…swallow.


There were plenty of other examples during our two-week adventure, and Hubbie and I tried hard to gracefully make the best of these moments.

And we did. Sometimes.

And in those moments…when we let go of our stubborn hold on our plan, the unexpected turn of events became another part of the adventure.

Which led me to a new way of looking at life…and to a new word to describe it.


What does it mean to be plexible? It means you plan things out…and then you commit to being flexible in the moment.

See what I did there?

Stay with me…this is a bit more complex than it might sound at first.

There will be all kinds of times when you need to be plexible…

  • …like when you book the perfect flight to your class reunion, but weather makes it impossible to take off…so you need to figure out another way to connect with old friends
  • …like when you put together the perfect presentation on your research, but your daughter gets the flu on the big day…so you need to figure out another way to share the info with your colleagues
  • …like when you’ve actually read the book for book club, but a friend scores last-minute tickets to hear your favorite 80s rock band…so you need to figure out how to graciously bail out of your club meeting (and get those stains out of your old acid-washed jeans pronto)

The thing is…this lesson is actually not about being plexible. That’s too simple and, frankly, there’s really no choice in the matter. We can make all the plans we want, and sometimes life just won’t cooperate.

This lesson is about our attitude around being plexible… It’s about making the choice to be plexible…to do it with curiosity and, sometimes, with delight. Because it’s all part of the adventure.

And, sometimes, the thing we didn’t plan for actually beats out anything we ever could have dreamed up beforehand.

The important thing here is to find the balance in our fun new language. After all, plexible is made up of two words, and they’re both critically important.

  • We must plan, because planning helps us intentionally take actions that guide us toward a wide variety of the goals and desires and needs that matter to us.
  • We must be flexible because our plans…well, they just don’t always stick. Life laughs. Outside forces – both good and bad – get in the way.

Sure, you can avoid being plexible. You can fail to plan and let life just happen without focusing on the things that truly mean something to you at the moment.

Or…you can plan so hard, and get so attached to it, that you stubbornly refuse to give it up when things go a different way.  Which doesn’t just create a terrible situation, but a terrible mood.

Sure, being plexible isn’t always fun. Sometimes planning is a drag. And, sometimes, when our plans don’t go the way we want, when life might laugh at them a bit, we can get very, very disappointed.


If you decide to not just accept the need to be plexible, but to intentionally be plexible, and to do so with curiosity, you might just find that your disappointments aren’t quite as disappointing as before. Or maybe they’re not as disappointing for quite as long.

You might find that the new things you discover as a result bring you a whole new set of opportunities.

And, I promise you, you will find that all of that planning does pay off sometimes. In fact, it pays off a lot of the time.

Like when you’ve received one too many Japanese tofu breakfasts…and you find yourself grateful that, thanks to your Japlanning, you brought some oatmeal packets from home.


Now, go do good…and do it well.

6 thoughts on “When Life Laughs at Your Best Laid Plans

  1. Sara Scheideman says:

    Greatness! Just what I needed to read today. Thank you.

  2. Nancy lemkie says:

    Perfect timing. Just went the wrong way taking me way out of my way. Bummer, but, oh well.

  3. Patty says:

    Thank you Deirdre for a great analogy. I like the word acceptance which tends to ease some of the blows and make for new choices.

  4. Thanks so much for your great comments Sara, Nancy and Patty…It’s funny how timing can be everything on these kinds of posts. 🙂 And acceptance is definitely a huge tool for all of us, Patty…just easier said than done!

  5. Joy Wolf says:

    Plexibility connects directly to the workshop on mindfulness that I attended today. We only control our response to the stimulus – so plexibility is a must

    1. So true! Plexiblity only works if we’re mindful enough to be flexible – and have the right perspective – in the moment. Thanks for the great comment!

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