7 Habits of People Who Stay Strong, Even When Life Doesn’t Go to Plan

7 Habits of People Who Stay Strong, Even When Life Doesn’t Go to Plan

Life has a way of throwing curveballs when we least expect them. One moment, everything seems to be going according to plan, and the next, we’re faced with unexpected challenges that test our resolve. What sets apart those who crumble under pressure from those who stay strong? The answer lies in their habits and mindset.

This article explores seven essential habits that resilient individuals cultivate to navigate unpredictable twists and turns. By incorporating these practices into your own life, you can develop the mental fortitude to face adversity and emerge stronger on the other side.

1. Maintaining a Growth Mindset

At the core of resilience lies a growth mindset—the belief that challenges are learning and personal development opportunities. People who stay strong during tough times view setbacks as temporary rather than insurmountable barriers.

To cultivate a growth mindset:

  • Embrace challenges as chances to learn and improve
  • Replace “I can’t” with “I can’t yet.”
  • Focus on the process of learning rather than solely on outcomes
  • Seek feedback and use it constructively

By adopting this perspective, you’ll approach difficulties with curiosity and determination rather than fear and resignation. This shift in mindset can transform how you perceive and respond to life’s unexpected turns.

2. Practicing Emotional Regulation

Strong individuals understand the importance of managing emotions, especially during turbulent times. Emotional regulation doesn’t mean suppressing feelings but acknowledging and healthily processing them.

Techniques for emotional regulation include:

  • Mindfulness meditation to stay present and aware
  • Deep breathing exercises to calm the nervous system
  • Journaling to express and process emotions
  • Cognitive reframing to challenge negative thought patterns

By developing these skills, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the emotional rollercoaster that often accompanies life’s challenges. This emotional stability provides a solid foundation for problem-solving and decision-making in difficult situations.

3. Building a Strong Support Network

No one is an island, and those who weather life’s storms successfully often have a robust support network. This network provides emotional support, practical assistance, and diverse perspectives during challenging times.

To build and maintain a robust support system:

  • Cultivate deep, meaningful relationships
  • Be willing to be vulnerable and ask for help when needed
  • Offer support to others, creating reciprocal relationships
  • Engage in community activities or join groups with shared interests

Remember, seeking support is not a sign of weakness but a testament to your self-awareness and wisdom. A strong support network acts as a safety net, providing comfort and resources when needed.

4. Focusing on What Can Be Controlled

Life’s unpredictability can leave us feeling helpless, but resilient individuals understand the importance of focusing on what they can control. This habit involves distinguishing between factors within and beyond our influence and directing energy toward actionable items.

To practice this habit:

  • Identify aspects of the situation you can influence
  • Create action plans for controllable factors
  • Accept and let go of uncontrollable circumstances
  • Redirect energy from worry to productive action

Concentrating on areas where you can make a difference, you maintain a sense of agency and purpose, even in challenging situations. This focus prevents feelings of helplessness and keeps you moving forward.

5. Practicing Self-Care and Stress Management

Resilient individuals recognize that caring for themselves is crucial for maintaining strength during difficult times. Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s necessary for sustaining the energy and clarity needed to face challenges.

Effective self-care and stress management practices include:

Creating a sustainable self-care routine helps build resilience by ensuring you have the physical and mental resources to cope with stress. It’s about filling your cup to handle whatever life throws your way.

6. Setting Realistic Goals and Adapting Plans

Life’s unpredictability requires flexibility in goal-setting and planning. Resilient people understand the importance of adjusting their expectations and strategies when faced with setbacks or changing circumstances.

To cultivate this habit:

  • Set realistic, achievable goals
  • Break larger goals into smaller, manageable steps
  • Regularly review and adjust plans as needed
  • Celebrate progress and small victories along the way

This approach allows you to maintain momentum and a sense of accomplishment, even when the path to your goals isn’t straightforward. It’s about finding alternative routes rather than giving up when obstacles arise.

7. Cultivating Gratitude and Optimism

Maintaining a positive outlook in adversity is a hallmark of resilient individuals. This doesn’t mean ignoring reality or suppressing negative emotions but actively seeking out and appreciating the good in life, even during challenging times.

To cultivate gratitude and optimism:

  • Keep a gratitude journal, noting three things you’re thankful for each day
  • Practice reframing negative situations to find potential benefits or learning opportunities
  • Surround yourself with positive influences, including people and media
  • Engage in acts of kindness to boost your mood and perspective

This habit helps maintain perspective during difficult times, reminding you that challenges are temporary and that there’s still good in the world. It fuels hope and motivation, essential for staying firm when life doesn’t go well.

Case Study: Rich’s Journey to Resilience

Rich, a 38-year-old restaurateur, had always dreamed of owning a successful chain of eateries. After years of hard work, he opened his second location, pouring savings and countless hours into the venture. A severe economic downturn hit the city just six months after the grand opening, causing a sharp decline in dining out. Rich watched helplessly as his customer base dwindled and profits plummeted.

Initially overwhelmed by stress and fear, Rich was considering giving up. However, he realized that wallowing in despair wouldn’t solve his problems. He decided to take control of the situation, focusing on what he could change. Rich adapted his menu to offer more affordable options, implemented a robust takeout system, and negotiated with suppliers for better rates.

To manage the emotional toll, Rich joined a support group for small business owners facing similar challenges. He found solace in sharing experiences and learning from others’ strategies. At home, he prioritized self-care, ensuring he got enough sleep and exercise to maintain his energy and clarity of thought.

Despite the ongoing economic challenges, Rich’s restaurants survived the downturn and eventually began to thrive again. He emerged from this experience with a more resilient business model and enhanced personal strength. Rich now mentors other restaurateurs, sharing the valuable lessons he learned about adaptability, perseverance, and maintaining a positive outlook in the face of adversity.

Key Takeaways

  • Resilience is built through consistent habits and mindset practices.
  • A growth mindset transforms challenges into opportunities for learning.
  • Emotional regulation skills are crucial for maintaining stability during difficult times.
  • A strong support network provides essential resources and perspective.
  • Focusing on controllable factors maintains a sense of agency in unpredictable situations.
  • Regular self-care is fundamental to sustaining resilience.
  • Flexibility in goal-setting and planning allows for adaptation to changing circumstances.
  • Cultivating gratitude and optimism helps maintain perspective during adversity.
  • Developing resilience is an ongoing process that requires practice and patience.
  • These habits enable individuals not just to survive but potentially thrive during challenging times.
  • Resilience doesn’t mean avoiding difficulties but developing the ability to navigate them effectively.
  • By incorporating these habits, one can build inner strength to face life’s unpredictability with confidence.


Life’s unpredictability is a constant, but our response to it is within our control. By cultivating these seven habits—maintaining a growth mindset, practicing emotional regulation, building a solid support network, focusing on what can be controlled, practicing self-care and stress management, setting realistic goals and adapting plans, and cultivating gratitude and optimism—, you can develop the resilience needed to stay strong in the face of life’s challenges.

Remember, developing these habits is a journey, not a destination. It takes time, practice, and patience. There will be setbacks along the way, but each challenge is an opportunity to strengthen these habits and your overall resilience. As you incorporate these practices into your life, you’ll find yourself better equipped to handle the unexpected twists and turns that come your way. You’ll develop an inner strength that allows you to bend without breaking, to adapt without losing sight of your goals, and to find growth opportunities even in the most challenging circumstances.