Things rarely ever go as planned. And yet, we continue to meticulously plan our career, relationships and everything in between.
I’ve recently started to wonder why that is.
For me, it’s comforting to feel like I’m in control. While I can’t control life itself I can supervise my plan for it, whether it’s fulfilled or not.
And that’s the interesting part about it.
We continue to plan and map out our lives even though most of us know the results are likely to be slightly different from expectations.
This is not to say drop everything and take a haphazard approach to life.
But it is a challenge to re-evaluate plans/goals and where they stem from.
In this post, I’ll talk about my personal experience with planning, what it meant to me and how I changed my perspective on creating goals.
Goals from 20 years ago
About two years ago, I asked my dad to send a backpack that I carried in elementary school.
I was curious to see what the younger me was like. Before life’s surprises and challenges had a chance to seep in.
Among the stack of papers and homework assignments was a sheet that listed out three goals, handwritten by me.
“I want to be a Banker when I grow up because I am good at sorting money out.”
What this told me is that at a very young age, I was concerned about and motivated by money.
My career was at the top of that list. And yet, I was still YEARS away from being able to make strides toward that goal.
The other two seem more reasonable for a 7 year old…to “past” a driving test to travel the world and to have a good life.
When I read this, I felt a bit more at ease. I was happy to know that I still had the “innocence of a child” at the time.
And quite honestly, travelling and having a good life are something I can resonate with even today.
But I was still stuck on that first goal.
Why did I want to be a banker? What did I see in the outside world that convinced me this was a profession worth pursuing?
So many questions remained unanswered.
Whose plan is it anyway?
There’s the typical parent-pleasing aspect, along with the perpetual question asked by teachers, members of the clergy and relatives alike:
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
At face value, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this question. It’s a nice conversation starter to get someone thinking about their future.
Though, after being asked so many times and at an early age it can actually become something to obsess about. Something to plan for…
While the answer changes over the years, landing on the right one becomes the nucleus to our life plan.
It drives everything we do, consciously or subconsciously.
I now know that the plans I had were not solely my own.
There was influence from different people in my life. Those who I knew and others like celebrities who are usually grappling with their own botched plans behind closed doors.
This led me to reconsider all of my plans…past, present and future alike.
Start your bucket list now
I continued thinking about who our plans are for and where they originate.
While it’s hard to nail down specific people or things, it’s very clear that it’s our past self that we’re looking to satisfy.
If we’re not careful, we’ll work towards plans that are outdated or no longer serve who we are today. Or who we want to be.
Now I’m challenging myself to view plans from the perspective of my future self.
I’m not talking about the future as in five or ten years from now. Honestly, I’m not even referencing a timeline.
I’m talking about when we’re close to leaving this life, be it from old age, accident or illness. What will matter the most?
What plans and outcomes will still hold relevance and bring either joy or sadness, depending on how well they were completed?
It’s unlikely to be that job title, social media image or how much money we made in our “heyday.”
“It is never too early to begin a bucket list, don’t wait for that someday that may never come.”—Annette White
After a lot of thought and self-reflection, the plans that future me would care about are the ones related to:
- Health and well-being
- Friends and family.
- My ability to explore and travel the world, which is ironically in line with “little” me in 1999.
…the other goal aligned with all versions of me: to have a good life.
The tricky part is that “good” has many different meanings and can show up in a variety of ways.
For example, a good life for some may be financial independence while starting a family may be the definition for others.
I hope this inspires you to reflect on the current plans you have and dig deeper to understand the who, what and why behind them.
You’ll be surprised at just how much you’ve accomplished, what you want to do next and how close you actually are to your “good” life, however you choose to define it.