What to Do When Things Don’t Work out? ​

What to do when things don't work out? -Dr. Ivy Ge's mini-posts
Are you disappointed with how your life turned out? Here are the three things to do when nothing works out the way you want.

Are you disappointed with how your life turned out? You’re tired, stressed, and anxious. What should you do when nothing seems to work out the way you want?

Let me share something with you:

In early August, I had a horse accident that landed me seven fractures and a big gash. For months, I endured all kinds of pain, bone pain, flesh pain, and nerve pain intense enough to wake me up every night. Staring into the darkness, I often wondered if tortured POWs ever wished they were dead. 

Pain medications didn’t work for me, except for making me severely dizzy and nauseous. I watched the entire world gone crazy while my body was rioting against me. I had every reason to feel angry and sad about my situation. After two weeks of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to do something about the pain.

Things happen; either you go with it or against it. Doing nothing is a choice, if only it makes you feel better.

Here’s how I figured out a solution for my suffering. It’s far from a perfect solution, but hey, if it helps me get through the day, it’s working.

First, acknowledge the fact this is not the time to aim for perfection.

You can’t have everything, so focus on the most important things first. Once you get them under control, you can move on to other things.

For my post-traumatic pain, I decided it was impossible to go back to my pain-free days. What I aimed for was making myself feel in control while coping with the pain.

Second, try a new coping strategy.

Your old defense mechanism isn’t working. It’s time to learn from others, either from someone you know or admire. If one strategy doesn’t work, try another. Adjust the ones that work to fit your unique situation.  

For my pain, I tried these few things:

1. Calming myself: I practice tactical breathing as detailed in my book The Art of Good Enough. I also use this popular meditation app headspace to help me acknowledge and let go of my negative thoughts and feelings.

2. Listening to music: I turn on my favorite playlist when the pain hits me hard. Then I dance to the beats as much as my stiff and achy body allows me. I don’t care how awkward my movements look; they make me feel free and in control. I feel grateful I’m still alive. And the amazing thing is, the more I move, the happier and less pain I feel. Never have I realized the natural healing power of music and dance!

3. I write about my fears and suffering when things are hard, describing how terrible I felt with each setback and how unfair life feels like. When things are going well, I record my progress and wins. On those especially hard days, I would read my ‘good day’ entries and feel motivated to push through obstacles and resistance.

Third, make a plan.

There’s no perfect plan when everything evolves so fast. Even an imperfect plan is better than no plan at all. Having a plan lowers your anxiety and motivates you to take action. You can always refine your plan as you go. The farther along you are, the clearer everything becomes. 

My goal is to recover to my baseline physical condition. I use my iPhone apps to track how many steps I take each day, how many repetitions I can do for each physical therapy exercise. My goal is to squeeze in just a few more reps and steps each day.

At the end of the month, I’ll compare stats from the beginning to the end of the month and feel proud I’ve come this far. My progress is usually the biggest motivator for me to continue the upward trend and momentum.  

You see, it is all about how you set a goal, take a step forward, and go from there. Nothing is perfect, but that’s life. None of us is perfect, but we make things better each day.


Not sure what you want or what you’re good at? Read this article here.

Need more information on handling failure? Check out this article here.

Want to make wiser decisions? Click here.


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Dr. Ivy Ge

Doctor of Pharmacy, author of The Art of Good Enough. She writes to inspire women to design their own fate. Her writings and interviews have been featured on MSNBC, Thrive Global, Working Mother magazine, Parentology, and The Times of India.

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