Why it’s okay to not always have a plan
Remember in school, classrooms would have a poster that said something like, “If you fail to plan, then you are planning to fail” (Benjamin Franklin). I used to think that poster was so true. People who did not plan ahead in their lives were going to fail. In college I even used to think it was CRAZY that people were undeclared majors.
“How could they not know what they want to do in life?”
However, now that I’m 28 and in the “real world”, I absolutely despise that quote. The quote is almost set up to make people believe at a very young age, that life must be planned out. It is a very unrealistic.
I remember once when I was about 14 hanging out with one of my friends in my backyard talking about how in 10 years each of us will be married with kids. It’s almost sickening for me to think about now. I had the mindset that at 24 I should be married. Then at 25 or 26 I should start having kids like life would be some SIM game. Ta-da! Here’s your husband and perfectly timed kids, with everything else lined up just right in life. Back then I was SUCH a planner. For crying out loud, I even had my braces colors chosen out for each month and written down on paper!
Fast forward to today. I’m 28 and want totally different things out of life. I’m not in this dream spot of my life, in the dream home, financially where I want to be, doing elaborate things…yet. Essentially this is not what I would have envisioned 28 looking like back when I was just 14 years old. Society put ideas in our minds at a young age that we need to be married, have kids, and have our lives figured out basically in our 20s.
Well I’m here to tell you that it does NOT have to go that way. YOU are in charge of YOUR life. Am I where I want to be at 28? No, but that’s okay. I’m not a failure because I did not plan my entire future out 10 years ago.
With social media, it has gotten so easy to compare ourselves to others and their lives. We often assume that we are unsuccessful, unloved, or not worthy just because we haven’t hit major milestones at a certain age. What should have more emphasis is ACTION. Are you growing? Are you progressing? Are you working toward your “big why” in life? You see, people can plan and plan and plan all
day, but plans will mean nothing if action is not taken. In fact, planning too much can lead to let downs. If you plan out your entire future life, you are likely to see that life does not always stick to the plan. You can probably ask anyone who is middle-aged, “Are you where you thought you would be back when you were in your 20s?” I am willing to bet that majority of them will say “no”. Does that make them failures? No! Life is going to happen. You may not like the original career path you chose. Perhaps it’s time for you to move across the country. Maybe you found that you want to spend time focusing on yourself. Either way, change is inevitable. Yet, our schools have these awful, pressuring posters that make us believe that we will be failures if we don’t have everything planned out.
So am I just totally trashing the idea of planning? Not quite. I’d say I’m a pretty Type-A person. I love planners, post it notes, to-do lists, you name it. However, it is important to plan carefully. Don’t plan the next five years of your life as that could lead to disappointment. Plus, it is highly likely that what you want out of life will change, especially in your 20s.
Instead, plan your day out to reduce down time or procrastination. Plan out how you are going to get the project for work done by the deadline. Plan a daily routine for yourself to have a more productive, positive day. Create a budget plan to monitor your expenses and income. Plan and prep your meals for the week. Start a workout regimen to get in shape. See, there are plenty of ways to plan effectively in order to help you achieve without planning your entire life.