A lot of people have big plans. Maybe you’re one of them.
Carefully constructed with strategies, tactics, vision boards, mission statements and publicly declared goals for accountability, people put a lot of time and effort into long term plans.
You might think that I’d be right behind this kind of focus, and that I be grabbing my trumpet to fanfare all of this goal-setting and planning. I should be congratulating these people for their mature and responsible approach and for having a firm hand on their rudder.
But five year plans, are, I think, dumb. Here’s why.
Plans replace meaning
Details consume you, and planning often falls into the trap of being a replacement for meaningful action. Making a plan is a marvellous strategy for procrastination.
Life doesn’t go to plan
Life isn’t orderly. It’s more drunken dock-worker than pious nun, and it’s ready to tip the table and start a fight at the drop of a tidal fluctuation. People go insane trying to control the detail of life, and a plan is often a means to feel in control.
You grow by letting things go
Hearing what’s next in your life can be impossible when all you can hear is the rattle and hum from the plans you’ve made. It’s easy to miss an intriguing, hidden path when your eyes won’t move from the map you drew before you left home.
Hey, if you’re a believer in plan-making, then go for it. Do what works for you. Just don’t come to believe that if you don’t have a plan you’re doing something wrong.
Writer Joseph Campbell said, “You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you”. So the most essential ingredient to any great plan is to have it be flexible enough to throw away if you need to.
You don’t need to a plan to explore.
You don’t need a plan to be joyful.
You don’t need a plan be yourself.
You don’t need a plan to belong.
You don’t need a plan to feel good enough.
Have a direction of travel. Know your values. Understand what you’re like at your best. Prioritise nourishment. These are some of the things you can add to your life to move it forwards. Other times it’s what you remove that allows your life to take shape.
Often, it’s by letting go that you get the best shot at the life you really want.
Which takes real, balls to the wall confidence.
To live without a hard and fast plan, to fly by the seat of your pants, to lean into uncertainty and trust yourself—isn’t that what this is all about?