Action plans. Boy, do people love those. If you want to succeed in life—you need a plan.
Or so the story goes.
It’s true: no plan is probably a bad plan. Although sometimes we get so caught up in the plan happening precisely as designed, we got thrown for a loop when it doesn’t. A plan does not guarantee your plan will unfold as intended.
I have a love/hate relationship with plans. I certainly see the value to them, but I also consider them to be a pain in the you know what. I often find them to be stifling and too rigid. Now as I’ve gotten older, my feelings have mellowed a bit, allowing me to feel more ambivalent about the outcomes of my plans.
Previously, I developed plans that were both highly unrealistic (unintentionally, of course) and inflexible, resulting in one of two things:
- Me quitting because I was overwhelmed by what I was supposed to accomplish.
- Me rebelling because there was no wiggle room, thus no freedom or creativity.
I’m in the midst of making plans now, personally and professionally. This time I’m striving to infuse my plans with both realism and imagination, concrete steps imbibed with flexibility and most importantly—the right attitude.
An attitude where I continually take steps towards my goal with an air of trust and grace. No longer will I allow myself to panic when a step doesn’t result in the exact outcome I anticipated. I can’t control life; I can control my attitude and my reactions. Assuming my goal or intention hasn’t changed, then whatever outcome occurred, happened for a reason.
We all have things we’ve wanted and never received or received 20 years later. Sometimes we get frustrated by this delay, but in moments of great clarity—we see it came at exactly the right time, and we are exactly who were meant to be. And sometimes it’s takes us years to see that too.
“My students ask me, ‘How do I get to be who you are?’ They mean, ‘How do I get to be Secretary of State?’ And I say, ‘Well, you start out as a failed piano major and you go from there.’ You can’t plan every step in life.”
Former United States Secretary of State
Sometimes going with the flow is the best plan of all.