Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Oh to have a LIFE PLAN!

I just read another blog post--a good one--about making a LIFE PLAN. (I capitalize because the term just seems to demand it.) I found myself getting sucked in yet again. Oh, the allure of this promise: that if I write down what I will do and how the world should respond, commit to acting on this plan and checking in on it quarterly, then PRESTO! ABRACADABARA! SHAZAM! things will unfold more or less the way I've laid them out.

It's never happened. Not even once.

I don't think life plans (or day plans, or to-do lists where you rank your priorities with little letters and then cross reference via many highlighters) are bad. I have friends who do this regularly and find it sooo helpful. I envy those friends (and tend to ask them lots of detailed, bordering-on-nosy questions about how they pull it off) because I've tried and it doesn't work for me.

I'm good at the first part: I can describing my GOALS, break those goals into NEXT ACTION STEPS, and even put DEADLINES on each of these to hold myself ACCOUNTABLE. (See...I know the lingo!) I have a tiny bit of artistry in me in terms of coloring within the lines, so some of my life plans have been festooned with color and sparkle; veritable works of art. But not a one held up in the shifting tides of real life.

Here's the thing: LIFE is bigger than my plans. I'm not the author of this story, no matter how much I like to pretend I am. Circumstances change; people turn out to be different than I expect (in ways that might be better, worse, or simply SURPRISING!); tragedy and disappointment, excitement and opportunity blow through and changes the landscape... Really, here's no quicker way for me to precipitate some sort of "out of nowhere/wow, I didn't see THAT coming" change than to make a plan.

So I wake up each morning a little wide-eyed (at least when it's not allergy season), look up to the ceiling (you know, because that's where God lives...) and await instruction.

***Late breaking additional thought!***
Just read this quote from Seth Godin (in a blog post called "failures and the dip" which makes me feel like third graders are making fun of me...) that seems relevant: "The hard part is deciding to do something, anything. Once you've decided to move, at least you're going. Might as well make it worth the trip."

I agree! Makes me wonder if it's less that I don't have a life plan, and more that I tend to take the scenic route? I'm almost always moving, and even the bumpy rides provide hours of memoir material & entertaining cocktail party stories. In other words: worth the trip. Thanks for the perspective shift, Seth :)


Julia Maranan said...

Honestly, I think my tendency to make to-do lists, etc. comes more from not knowing what the heck my life plan/calling is--that seems too vast and unknowable, so I focus on what I can do today. Or this week. The trick is not getting so caught up in those little things that I miss God's direction in them--or how they are moving me toward the larger picture of my life.

Trish Ryan said...

Julia you are SO one of the friends I bug with nosy questions! I'll confess I'm a bit enamored of your organization & productivity :)

Anonymous said...

Last Sunday our pastor gave his best surmon yet on PURPOSE, which gave me hope that if he's preaching on it, I am probably not the only one wondering what mine is. I am a planner/list maker, but over the past few years my plans have not happened, life has. My challenge is switching gears from my plans to the plan that God has for me.

Sarakastic said...

I so needed this today

Sarakastic said...

I sooo needed this today specially the pictogram

Jeff Rivera said...

Great post.. I like the image in the post