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Time waits for no one. How can you plan for the life you want to live?

5 small steps to help you plan for life's surprises.

Time waits for no one. How can you plan for the life you want to live?
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TD Ameritrade

Here's the thing about time: We perceive it relative to our age.

The Washington Post dives into a theory originally put forth by Paul Janet in 1897: We perceive the first years of our lives to be much longer than the years that come later because our point of reference for time is smaller when we're younger.

When you've only lived four years, one year is a big chunk of time — it's 1/4 of your life!


But when you're 70, a year passes in the blink of an eye. So even though we all get the same 24 hours in every day, it goes by faster and faster as we get older.

That begs the question: What are we doing right now to set ourselves up for a life lived to its fullest as it increasingly seems filled up?

What do you want to look back on when you're 75? What decisions will make you proud? What's the life you want to have lived?

We can do our best to "plan" our lives, but often, even the best laid plans fall apart or evolve into something you couldn't even have imagined.

Still, there are basics we know we can't escape: Food, water, and shelter are things that we all have to plan and prepare for, regardless of where life's road takes us.

So, what can you do today to prepare for a life that you can only loosely predict? Here are five ways to think about it.

1. Money? Travel? Family? Figure out what success means to you.

What do you consider to be successful? It may be one thing or it may be a combination of things. Either way, defining what success means to you can help you identify what you'll need to achieve in order to believe you lived a "good" life.

2. Beyond "success," have a vision.

Once you know what makes you happy, build on that. Formulate an idea of where you'd like to be in 30 years so that you have a direction to start moving in. Money blogger, Finance Girl, puts it this way:

"Your vision should embody your values and your view of the future without being too generic. Your vision can also change over time. The point is to have one so you know why you're doing what you do, and you're happier doing it."

Having a vision doesn't mean things will work out exactly as you'd planned, but it empowers you to act with intention. To move forward each day, working toward this larger ideal.

3. Take responsibility for your choices. All of them.

Sure, there are a million factors beyond your control that affect your life every single day, but remember that you do play a part in what happens. Ayse Birsel, author of "Design the Life you Love: A Step-by-Step guide to Building a Meaningful Future," says "your choices will determine the kind of life you are designing." As such, they should map back to your vision. You have to own them.

4. Remain flexible. We can only control so much.

As you work toward your goal, be open to change. Don't hold onto things too tightly or life's turbulence will rock you.

Paul B. Brown, co-author of "Just Start: Take Action; Embrace Uncertainty and Create the Future" reminds us to learn each step of the way. He says, "Determine your desire. Take a small step toward it. Learn from taking that step. Take another step. Learn from that one."

Image by SEO/Flickr.

Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep moving forward.

5. Unfortunately, the world does revolve around money. Be prepared.

Think about the things you can control, the factors you'll need to prepare for regardless of your life's ever-shifting trajectory. Money is one of them.

You can put the wheels in motion now so that you're not worrying about your finances at 75. You'll want to have everything as buttoned up as possible long before you're asking yourself where did the time go?

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Shanda Lynn Poitra was born and raised on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in Belcourt, North Dakota. She lived there until she was 24 years old when she left for college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.

"Unfortunately," she says, "I took my bad relationship with me. At the time, I didn't realize it was so bad, much less, abusive. Seeing and hearing about abusive relationships while growing up gave me the mentality that it was just a normal way of life."

Those college years away from home were difficult for a lot of reasons. She had three small children — two in diapers, one in elementary school — as well as a full-time University class schedule and a part-time job as a housekeeper.

"I wore many masks back then and clothing that would cover the bruises," she remembers. "Despite the darkness that I was living in, I was a great student; I knew that no matter what, I HAD to succeed. I knew there was more to my future than what I was living, so I kept working hard."

While searching for an elective class during this time, she came across a one-credit, 20-hour IMPACT self-defense class that could be done over a weekend. That single credit changed her life forever. It helped give her the confidence to leave her abusive relationship and inspired her to bring IMPACT classes to other Native women in her community.

I walked into class on a Friday thinking that I would simply learn how to handle a person trying to rob me, and I walked out on a Sunday evening with a voice so powerful that I could handle the most passive attacks to my being, along with physical attacks."

It didn't take long for her to notice the difference the class was making in her life.

"I was setting boundaries and people were either respecting them or not, but I was able to acknowledge who was worth keeping in my life and who wasn't," she says.

Following the class, she also joined a roller derby league where she met many other powerful women who inspired her — and during that summer, she found the courage to leave her abuser.

"As afraid as I was, I finally had the courage to report the abuse to legal authorities, and I had the support of friends and family who provided comfort for my children and I during this time," she says.

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


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