Planning ahead

Given the number of curveballs i’ve endured over the past 26 years, I should really have a much better understanding that despite all good intentions, 99% of the time life simply does not go the way you planned.

Yet here I am, planning.

And more so than that, i’m trying to understand the difference between planning for things that you can generally control, and planning for things that are still very much a work in progress.

On the one hand, i’m planning for an upcoming trip to Austin, Texas to attend the SXSW Interactive Festival on behalf of my company – Creative Circle. I’ve been wanting to attend SXSW for years and I’m ecstatic to finally have the opportunity to go. So for this, i’m planning: the sessions I want to attend, dinners I want to go to with colleagues, a visit to one of my client’s office because in addition to Chicago they also have a presence in Austin. I’m researching, i’m learning, and i’m planning.

On the other hand, I’m in an absolutely wonderful and fulfilling relationship with the best guy I could ever ask to have by my side. But I live in Chicago, and he lives in New York. We’re planning on him moving here sometime this summer. However, there’s a lot to think about and take in when it comes to such a major change. It will be a new chapter of our relationship in a city that i’ve only been in for seven months, and one that will be new to him, as well.

Planning for that major change has been overwhelming. And not in a bad way, but in a “big picture, big questions” kind of way – summer is our ballpark timeframe, but does that mean June, July, August? What if his job situation doesn’t pan out the way we hope it does? What if he hates it here? What’s our next step once he’s finally here? How long does this chapter last for us?

There are so many questions that, at least right now, are nothing more than hypotheticals. So in essence, we really can’t do much planning at the moment. More details have to fall into place, more time needs to pass, more patience needs to be practiced.

Yet the same question has continued to circle my mind time and time again – how soon is too soon to start planning?

Of course when it comes to financial planning, health and fitness goals, etc. it makes sense to get as much of a head start as possible. But in terms of everyday living, it feels to me that it’s more important to make a firm decision about what it is you want, and then put faith and trust into that decision until it’s close enough to plan and then take action on.

Sure, you can map things out, research, learn, and schedule until you have every minute of your life lined up. But at the end of the day, life generally has more plans in store for you than you have in store for yourself.

So go ahead and make a goal, and then take steps to get yourself there in the timeframe you allotted. Just do it knowing that the road to get there will more than likely come with a different set of detours than you could have ever imagined possible.

Plans change every single day. But that’s the fun of it, don’t you think?

Stand up eight

Everyone thinks they have a plan.

I’m going to work in this field, have this type of social life, make this much money, live in this neighborhood and have this type of life.

That’s a great plan, as long as you firmly understand and accept that it’s probably not going to work out that way.

And that’s not pessimistic of me to say. It’s realistic. And these unpredictable shifts in the way we expect our life to go are much more common than people care to admit.

Because the only sure thing about your plan, is that it is going to change. 

Sometimes the changes are easy to accept. You move past them with a shrug of your shoulders and say, “ya know what? that’s okay.”

Other times the changes just knock you down. Perhaps it’s because you were so confident that something would fit like a piece into your puzzle that you forgot to remember that there’s a chance it may not work out.

And when that happens, you have to do your best to adapt. Allow yourself to completely feel the initial emotion that comes over you: whether it be disappointment, anger, sadness or anything in-between. Sulk if you have to, eat some ice cream, do what makes you feel better. But don’t let that negative emotion linger. You must remember to keep hustling and keep busting your ass for what it is that you want.

Because if you’re going to let an unexpected glitch in your plan knock you down, you better be damn sure that you get back up.

Fall down seven times, stand up eight.