Self Improvement

How To Stay Positive When Things Aren’t Going As Planned

It’s easy to feel down when you’re not exactly where you think you should be. Ending a relationship, not being where you imagined in your career, and not checking certain travel destinations off a list can leave you feeling like you’ve failed in one way or another. And social media has a way of magnifying how awful you think things are by seeing how perfect you think everyone else has.

I’ve been there. It’s not my first time sharing this story, but for those of you who are new here or need a refresher, at 27 I was 8 years into a toxic and very dead-end relationship with an awful guy. I was designing blogs out of a bedroom at my mom’s house and found myself in a friendship, career, and general life rut. I became really depressed and retreated from everything.

At 28, I moved to Chicago – a city where I didn’t know anyone – and one year later I was single for the first time in my adult life. A few months later, I started working on the launch of The Everygirl – a website people thought exploded overnight (it did grow quickly) but we worked away unpaid for a year with full-time jobs on the side. I had my ups and downs over the next few years and still do, but I was the happiest I had ever been when I met Conor. He didn’t complete me because I didn’t need him to.

If you’re struggling with where you are right now, it’s time to reevaluate your goals and realize that it’s ok to be where you are – even if it’s not where you thought you should be.

Think about what’s going well

When it feels like things are falling apart in one area of our lives, it’s so easy to focus on where you’re stuck instead of what’s going right. I’m single. I don’t make enough money. 

Most recently for me, I found myself fixating on the fact that I wouldn’t have family at my wedding and couldn’t stop thinking about how sad I might be. I’m 35 and still learning. Rather than pine over the negative (something I am painfully good at) try thinking about what’s going right. Do you have an amazing family? Great friends? Are things improving at work? Focus on the good and do things that make you happy.

Embrace change

If you’re feeling stuck, take a class, say yes to new plans (this was a big one for me), go on a road trip, or consider moving to a new area in town or a new city.

Moving from LA to Chicago was the start of a completely new life for me and opened so many doors. A new job or new part of town could do the same. You just have to get out there and try something new.

Remember that change takes time

Just because things aren’t exactly how you think they should be now doesn’t mean they won’t get a lot better. Just 5 years ago, my first paycheck from The Everygirl was $1000 (a year into starting our website) and I was so stressed about money. I still worry about the future because who doesn’t – but it’s now my full-time job. I also got married about 7 years later than I thought I should but it all worked out in the end.

Remember that things will get better

Back when I was struggling in my 20s and felt like I didn’t have any support, I told myself that one day, I’d use my story to help someone. I didn’t know when or how, and I’ve gotten to be a part of something so much bigger via my blog and of course, The Everygirl. If I didn’t struggle and feel the need to “reset” by moving to Chicago, I never would have launched The Everygirl, wouldn’t have met some of my closest friends, and I never would have met my husband.

Do things that make you happy

Surround yourself with great people, make your favorite dinner, watch your happy place movie (Something’s Gotta Give or The Holiday, anyone?). There was even a time where I would eat a mini Trader Joe’s ice cream cone in bed in the morning simply because I could. Corny? Probably. But it made me happy.

How do you stay positive when things aren’t going as planned? 

Leave a comment
  • I needed this. Thanks, Danielle! Remembering that change takes time is a big one. I’m trying to attack tangible milestones each day, whether it’s updating a particular section of my resume or filling out paperwork to get pre-approved for a home loan. It’s unreasonable to think that I’ll become more content in my situation overnight, but each small step I make will eventually lead to change!

  • This week has been one of the worst weeks of my life, so I really needed to hear this. Thank you for being so open about your story!

  • Thanks for this post, Danielle. I’m going through a rather low point–it’s hard enough to not be where you think you should be in your 20’s or at 30, but in my mid-30’s now it feels like everyone else I know is reaching those financial, professional, and personal milestones that just seem persistently out of my own reach. I like your advice about embracing change, however small. I’m about to move within my city, and have to leave an area I love but only been able to afford with a roommate. I’ve mostly felt pretty down about it, but it helps to re-frame it as a change that takes me in a new direction.

    1. You’re so welcome! Ugh, I’m sorry. I’ve been there (in my early-mid 30s, too). It’s so hard. I know it FEELS like everyone has it figured out but they don’t. Trust me. Hope the move brings lots of happiness – can be just the thing you need to shake things up!

  • Thank for you for this amazing post Danielle! This was exactly
    what I needed to hear this week! I discovered the everygirl in 2013 after college and was
    moving to DC and didn’t know a soul. I actually printed off an everygirl article
    before my move that was written about starting off in a new city, and I vividly
    remember how the author danced around in a half packed apartment and celebrated
    the change and transition. I probably re-read that article dozens of times during
    that first year there and it helped me through that scary big first step. I started
    fresh again in Charlotte about two years ago and remembered that same wisdom
    then! I read theeverygirl daily and it is always a bright spot in my day. You
    have really created something special and I am so happy to have discovered your
    blog after your article on theeverygirl a few weeks back.

  • Danielle,
    Thank you for sharing this story, I have certainly been in a life rut before, for the exact reasons you named. I still have my moments, but I am better with handling diffuculties these days, especially since I keep a grateful journal. It helps to reflect on the postive things in life instead of always focusing on the pitfalls. I love hearing the raw you (and others), it’s inspiring and lets us all know that we are not alone on this rollercoaster ride we call life.

  • Your story is so inspiring, and I discovered it at a time when I really needed to hear it (which was pretty recently). Thanks for sharing the ugly – that’s more than many bloggers do – and of course, for showing us that your hard work totally paid off. Also, The Holiday is one of my absolute top feel-good movies. Total game changer when it comes to your mood. 🙂