“One possible reason why things aren’t going according to plan is that there never was a plan.” ― Ashleigh Brilliant
I love Ashleigh Brilliant quotes. What a great sense of humor and understanding of mankind he displays. Many of us think we have a plan for our lives or maybe even just for the day. Perhaps we start each day with a “To Do” list, but that’s not really a plan. Perhaps we have even spent some time thinking about the day and the things that we need to do or want to do; but those thoughts aren’t plans either. Maybe we have visualized how the day might go. Maybe we have dreamed about or wished how the day might go. None of those are plans.
So what is a plan? The WikiPedia definition of a plan is –
A plan is typically any diagram or list of steps with timing and resources, used to achieve an objective. It is commonly understood as a temporal set of intended actions through which one expects to achieve a goal. The definitions in other sources are similar and likely similarly unachievable in life.
We like to think we can plan and that we have plans for our life. We have, instead, some goals in mind and perhaps we have considered a few alternatives at a few decision points in the processes necessary to achieve those goals. What we have are dreams and ambitions surrounded by a vague understanding of what is required to achieve them, nestled in good intentions and held together with the gossamer threads of naivety. In fact there never was a plan. I often say that I had a plan and then life got in the way.
The thing is that not having a clear and firm plan is OK. A dream or a goal provides us with some sense of the direction that we wish to go in. Our plan (an outline at best) gives us a starting point and the rest of the journey towards those goals falls loosely under the category of learning and maturing. Another thing is that the plan changes as we go, or at least it should. Finally, it’s almost useless to try to keep track (score) of how you are doing in achieving the original plan. As Brilliant put it –
“Please don’t ask me what the score is. I’m not even sure what the game is.” ― Ashleigh Brilliant
Have you ever met someone who says that they are still trying to find themselves, to figure out what they want to be; what they want to do with their life? You may initially pity them or even be repulsed by their lack of ambition or purpose; but, the truth is, they may be stating more honestly than you what their plan is for their life. They have no plan yet and they admit it. Some of the most famous and successful people the world has known spent a part of their youth bumming around the world trying to figure out what they wanted to do with their life. Along the way they accumulated wisdom about people and different cultures that served them well later in life.
So, let’s all continue to make our daily To Do lists. They aren’t plans; just task lists that we may get to in some random order and feel good about accomplishing. As for real plans in our lives, maybe we should just make sure that our moral compasses are set right, let life happen and enjoy the ride. We can still have dreams, because as Brilliant says –
“The best reason for having dreams is that in dreams no reasons are necessary.” ― Ashleigh Brilliant
I’ve posted here before3 about dreams, see the post What’s in your Dreams?
But as for plans – go back to the top and read the first quote. Don’t spend too much time on a plan that goes out the window the first time things don’t go as planned. You’re better off to prepare yourself to react properly to the things that come your way on your way to your goals. Maybe a re-read of my post on Problem Solving 101 would be a god start.