By Amy Hackworth. Image by Justin Hackworth.

Our family went on a little road trip last week, and I had some pretty specific ideas about how we’d spend our travel time. Things didn’t work out how I’d planned. It was nothing big or tragic that waylaid my ideas, just some unexpected events that changed the outcome of our trip (and truthfully, only slightly).

And yet, it stung. It was difficult for me to let go of the hope I’d felt in creating my expectations for our time together. The altered prospects were nothing too challenging, and actually presented some lovely opportunities. But it took more than a few miles down the road before I felt like acknowledging those opportunities.

Expectations have value, certainly, and help us manage our own and our family’s lives. But holding onto them so tightly didn’t do me a bit of good. Not surprisingly, being upset that things hadn’t gone differently didn’t change my circumstances. In fact, as long as I begrudged the loss of my unmet expectations, those expectations crowded out the good that was right in front of me—until I let them go. Once I was willing to accept what was instead of what I’d wanted, there was suddenly space to enjoy our days as they unfolded.

Have you learned to strike a balance between your expectations and the unexpected?