“Do you remember the day you discovered your life wasn’t going to turn out quite the way you thought?” This is the first line of the chapter called REALITY in the book PLAN B by Pete Wilson. It got me thinking about all my plans for my life. It got me thinking about the plans of countless others. It got me thinking if you were having a similar experience.
Sooner or later if it hasn’t happened already, it will. Dreams, goals, expectations, plans – don’t bear fruit, never materialize. Plans fizzle. Expectations come to nothing. People we trust let us down. Coming to think of it, sometimes WE LET OUR OWN SELVES DOWN! Dreams shatter into a million little pieces. We sometimes attempt, to piece back our lives like a huge jigsaw puzzle, hoping to return to how things were only to find out those pieces no longer fit, or form a picture we recognize. We are puzzled. Our Plan A didn’t work. Now what?
We are usually so confident of what’s going to happen by when that we hardly ever have another plan. Our PLAN A must work. So when it doesn’t, it’s not an easy transition turning to Plan B; and given how we did with our planning the first time around we are afraid to even contemplate a second plan.
So we do what any intelligent person does and IGNORE the reality of our situation. We instead ask ourselves “why is this happening to me?” and seek to find solutions to reverse turn our situation around and back in the direction we were heading. Our efforts of course, are in futility but we do try. We set off to improve and alter, to add and to subtract from ourselves – keeping all the things we feel will help and discarding everything that we see will hurt us. Yet nothing changes.
Sometimes we RUN. We figure that perhaps what we need is new scenery so we changes jobs, get into new relationships or move ourselves geographically. We rationalize that a FRESH perspective is all we need. Yet nothing changes.
Now we’re ANGRY. After all, EVERYONE else but us seems to be proceeding with their PLAN As. They’re getting married, living their dream life in their dream homes, having children, traveling the world, looking physically fit and healthy, and leading productive content lives. Yet nothing changes.
When PLAN A doesn’t work, we realize but don’t necessarily want to accept that we were never in control. The ILLUSION of control is one of the greatest of all illusions. Peter Scazzero says “I like control. I like to know where God is going, exactly what he is doing, and the exact route of how we are getting there and exactly when we will arrive. I also like to remind God of his need to behave in ways that fit with my clear ideas of him. For example, God is just merciful, good, wise, loving. The problem, then, is that God is beyond the grasp of every concept I have of him. He is utterly incomprehensible.”
I don’t have a concrete prescription for you regarding what to do when PLAN A goes awry but I do think that when it does happen and you can finally accept that it has happened that you should spend some time trying to figure out what is the message or learning for you. I like what Ray Dalio, founder of the investment firm Bridgewater Associates, shares about his plans and what he’s learnt so far:
“That failure is by and large due to not accepting and successfully dealing with the realities of life, and that achieving success is simply a matter of accepting and successfully dealing with all my realities.
That finding out what is true, regardless of what that is, including all the stuff most people think is bad—like mistakes and personal weaknesses—is good because I can then deal with these things so that they don’t stand in my way.”
My own thinking is that you will enjoy life, regardless of the setbacks, disappointments and occasional disillusions, when you are being yourself; not one way on the inside and another way outside to please others. When you live this way you become conflicted and often lose touch with what you really think and feel. It’s difficult for you to be happy and almost impossible for you to be at your best.
Entrepreneur Dan Waldschmidt says “Ever wonder what would happen if you would just be you — if you stopped trying to look like something that you’re not? We spend a lot of time pretending to be something that we’re not. Why are we pretending so hard? What’s so important that we have to be something we’re not? We all want something more in life. Sometimes it’s small and silly. Other times it’s something so big we’re afraid to say it out loud for fear it might vanish at the sound of it being spoken. Big (or small) dreams are tough work pursuing. They require an insane level of dedication, perspiration, and inspiration. You have to bleed and fight and cry and struggle and work your way against impossible odds to the finish line. Pretending to be something that you’re not just makes that struggle all the more difficult, all the more confusing. You start believing that since you look the part and act the part that you’re really a competitor. And you’re not. You’re a pretender. A fake. An impostor. No one else around you knows, but you know. You’re just pretending. You’re trying to be the person other people think you should be.”
Gandhi says “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Live from the guidance you receive within and you’ll have a better time navigating through your life. Remember our plans make us feel in control but we are not in control. We all have a path to walk, a purpose to fulfil. So create a plan yes, but remain flexible and heed the voice that asks you to surrender. I don’t have the all the answers but I choose to believe that the hardships and challenges I experience are opportunities for me to be more of who I am regardless of the plans I have in place for myself. What about you?