There are days where life seems crazy and almost completely overwhelming.

I’m wracked with writer’s block and project deadlines. My wife is running late from work. I have a cold and a headache is blooming. My youngest child demonstrates why his age is sometimes called the “terrible threes.” I break a handmade ceramic plate on the floor. I’m missing a key ingredient for the meal I was planning for dinner. My daughter spills most of a gallon of milk on the floor.

This describes the lowlights of a recent day in my life.

At the end of the day, I felt tired and frustrated. All I wanted to do was go to bed.

My day wasn’t over yet, though. I had to make a grocery store run in order to get a small number of things for a special event for my daughter in the morning.

I went to the store and even though I had a list and knew what I wanted to buy, I walked out with three bags and a $60 receipt.

Shopping when your mind is out of sync is a terrible, terrible idea.

Looking back on it, I’m not really sure what the solution to the situation was. I guess I could have woken up especially early the next morning and gone to the 24 hour grocery store for the items. I could have woken Sarah up, too, I suppose. Neither one of them seemed like a good option.

Instead, I just kind of wrote the whole thing off in my head. I did as much as I could in advance to make sure things went well. They just didn’t.

Sometimes, whether you like it or not, life is simply crazy. You can prepare and plan all you want, but when a child throws a temper tantrum and another child dumps an entire gallon of milk on a hardwood floor and you’ve got a splitting headache and you still have several things on your to-do list, you’re simply not going to pull everything off perfectly.

When life gets crazy, accept imperfection. Do the best you can, move on, and work for better results when life isn’t so crazy.

Before life gets crazy, prepare as much as you can so that, in those crazy moments, you don’t have to flounder. For example, if you have kids around, it’s always useful to have a few extra cloth towels on hand to cover the inevitable spills and messes, and it’s never a bad idea to have a simple monster cookie recipe always on the tip of your tongue. If you’re a writer, always have an article or two in the bag so that you have something to turn in if things become disastrous.

The next morning, I woke up to find that the tidal wave of chaos had subsided. It left behind the remnants of a few mistakes, but I can live with those. It’s not whether the tidal wave knocks you down, but whether you can get back up and whether you can be more prepared for the next one.

Don’t blame yourself for those crazy moments in life. Instead, applaud yourself for the things you did in advance to make the crazy moment easier to deal with and less prone to error.

Trent Hamm
Trent Hamm
Founder of The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm founded The Simple Dollar in 2006 after developing innovative financial strategies to get out of debt. Since then, he’s written three books (published by Simon & Schuster and Financial Times Press), contributed to Business Insider, US News & World Report, Yahoo Finance, and Lifehacker, and been featured in The New York Times, TIME, Forbes, The Guardian, and elsewhere.

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