Friday’s senseless terrorist attack in Paris derailed a lot of people’s plans. It may even have affected yours and mine.

One person who surely must feel pressure – because he’s getting it from a lot of sources – is our new Prime Minister. He’s barely in office, with a pledge to withdraw our combat mission against ISIS, when these monsters of destruction throw him this curveball. Is it really a good time to pull out of the mission, Canadians are asking in droves? And the pressure from other world leaders as they meet this week must be intense on Trudeau. What will he do?

It reminds me of the early days of George W. Bush’s administration. Barley having won the presidency, confirmed only after months of wrangling, he faced 9-11. Was this what he was anticipating when he fought so hard to have the courts declare him elected even though he’d lost the popular vote? Obviously not! The joke flying around at the time was that of a meek president knocking on Al Gore’s door with an offer: “Here, you can have it!”

It also reminds me of Harper’s early years. Elected Prime Minister in the heady days of a booming economy, it wasn’t long before he faced the ‘07-’08 economic meltdown in the U.S. Not exactly what he’d anticipated when he campaigned to lead our country! Given the circumstances, he was forced to do exactly what he never wanted to: budget for a huge deficit in order to stimulate the economy. It took him the rest of his tenure to get out of that.

But this is not intended to be a political column. The point is: Life often does not go as anticipated! We all get curveballs lobbed at us from time to time. When that happens, are we able to adjust? Are we flexible enough to change directions when we get sideswiped along the way?

Remember Apollo 13? The crew of that mission used a roll of duct tape to get them safely back to Earth when their mission to the Moon went massively wrong.

Some of us may find it easier than others to make mid-course corrections. But resisting the necessity to do so will probably not help us in the long run. Change – and surprises – are a fact of life.

Which begs the question: Can we prepare for the unexpected? Or is it in the nature of surprises that we simply be unprepared? Is there even such a thing as a “Plan B” for the unexpected?

Here’s what I think. It’s really not possible to have a “Plan B” in place for things that are true surprises (otherwise, they would not really be surprises!) But it is possible to have, or develop, a mindset that allows us to be flexible and reactive when those things hit us.

And for those things that are likely to occur at some point but with an extremely low probability – earthquakes in our region, for example – we should simply not treat them as true surprises. We should have at least the rough outlines of a “Plan B.”

Was this one of those occasions?

What do you think?

Rent 2 own tip:

Whether renting, owning or renting-2-own, we should avoid planning for the maximum affordable level. Surprises do occur; life happens! If we build in some room for the unknown, a “caution factor,” we will be in a better position to ride out the challenges.

At Fraser Valley Rent 2 Own, we qualify people a little more conservatively than the banks would if they otherwise qualified for a mortgage today because of unknowns that may occur between the beginning and the end of the lease-option period. It’s our way of increasing the chances of success at the end of the term.

Quote of the Week:

Learning is a lifelong process, and the day you stop seeking new knowledge is the day you begin to whither on the vine. – Tony Hartl