Expect the unexpected…

April 10, 2023
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Do you look at life as a series of events that just happen to you… or as a journey where you are mostly in charge of what unfolds? 

While we can’t control everything that happens, constantly reacting to the world around us can make us feel out of control. Kind of like a pinball, bouncing from bumper to bumper, getting slapped around by life’s flipper paddles …

When we fail to take deliberate actions we’re almost guaranteed to feel overwhelmed, disappointed, and stressed out. 

And unfortunately, with all of our existing work, family, and household obligations already demanding a lot of our attention, it's very easy to meet the unexpected as if it were also unwanted. 

That keeps us in a reactive mode. 

REACTIVE mode is how we describe constantly reacting to the world around us and the situations that arise. 

The alternative is to be PROACTIVE: mapping out what you want to do each day and also anticipating what might happen so you always have a Plan B in your pocket.

With a simple system and a few contingencies in place, you can move from being reactive to becoming proactive pretty easily. 

And that one adjustment lets you stay present for everyday events AND remain calm in the face of any surprising difficulties. 

Here are 3 tips you can try out so that when the next surprise comes your way, you can meet it with a bit more grace and calm instead of getting upset and having everything disrupted.


When you’re proactive, you’re actively scanning the horizon for things heading your way. This does not mean always being on high alert—or expecting that you’ll never miss something—but it does mean thinking about what things MIGHT happen so you can start to prepare yourself.  

This allows you to create a system to provide yourself time to get ready for upcoming situations and give yourself a bit of a cushion.

PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE:  Set a timer for 15 minutes max and run through the list of upcoming events, what might go wrong, and how you could easily respond if any of the things you imagine COULD happen DO happen.


Once you’ve thought about what lies ahead and figured out how you’d deal with anything unexpected, what do you need to have on hand to put that plan in motion?

Whether that’s reviewing your emergency evacuation plan, your “go” bag, or making sure you have some water on hand, or tools nearby, the time to check on your supplies is BEFORE you need them, not 15 minutes AFTER you do.

You don’t need to build a bunker in your backyard, but you could go through your utility closet, garage, attic, or basement and see what you already have on hand.

This is where being organized makes everything so much easier!

PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE:  Set a timer for 15 minutes max and go through all your storage spaces to check on emergency supplies as well as useful tools, etc.

The time to organize them is now before you need them. You’ll likely be dealing with your feelings about the unexpected when it occurs so now is the time to do this work, when you can think clearly and move slowly and deliberately.


Preparing for what could happen, and being aware that unexpected things will come up is a great start. 

To make sure when you are planning things that you are prioritizing them in the right order and not racing down imaginary rabbit holes, tap into your core values for guidance. [can we link this to the sheet?]. 

Core values are the things that help you align how you WANT to live your life and help you home in on what is really important to you.

That way, you don’t end up coasting along until you find yourself in a dead-end alley or cul-de-sac with no way out except retracing your steps … which is a huge waste of time and energy.

It doesn’t take much to get clear on what you want so you can be intentional about where you want to be heading.

Using your values as your True North is the fastest and most reliable way to make sure that you don't spend your precious time prioritizing tasks that you don't actually care about.

I want you to know that, in most situations, you have the power to choose what your days look like. 

PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE:  Set a timer for 25 minutes max and answer the questions on the Core Values Worksheet. If you haven’t done these before, you’re sure to learn some things about yourself and what’s important to you. And if you have done them in the last 12 months, a quick 10-minute review should refresh your memory and get you back on track.

Move from reactive to proactive and you will instantly see the benefits in your home, your relationships, and your overall stress levels.

I would love to hear if you feel like you are living in REACTIVE or PROACTIVE mode and if you think that being more proactive would help you be more prepared and less stressed out. 

Just reply to this email and let me know (even if I don’t respond, the team and I read all of your emails!)  

Here’s to more love and less stuff AND stress,


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Declutter Your Life Podcast by Andrew Mellen. Available on iTunes!