There is no plan.
The future can be scary and intimidating if we let it be and one of the ways we allay our fears of the future is through planning.
You see planning everywhere, financial, family, estate, personal, business; everywhere you look there’s a plan. What we like about the plan is that it gives us a path to follow, a course to hold and an end to achieve.
I have given up on plans. For almost the entirety of my life there has been a plan in place. The plan has changed over time but it’s always been there and it’s always been this overarching thing, hanging over my head like the proverbial dark cloud.
When I look back on all the plans laid in my life I can say with certainty that not one has come to fruition. This is neither a good or a bad thing, it is merely an observation, but it leads to this point.
PLANNING IS FRUITLESS
Planning is just a form of control, only with a plan you’re trying to control how the universe is going to serve up the path you wish to follow. The problem with this is that you can’t predict that, and you can’t control it. What the universe opens up in front of you is far outside the scope of any human’s control and the best we can do is to be open to what the universe has to offer us.
So right now we don’t have a plan. We are working towards something, and that something is simple. We are working towards the freedom to pursue our passions. We’re getting closer to this place, and we’ve been getting closer for a long time now. It’s been a long path that we’ve been traveling and there have been many twists along the way. Along this path these are the things I’ve learned.
A PLAN IS A TOOL TO YOU WHERE YOU WANT TO GO
The best laid plans always go awry. Everyone knows this and the reason a plan goes awry is because of the impossibility of controlling all the elements in life that will have an impact on your plan. If you spend all of your time and energy trying to make sure everything goes according to plan you’ll not only never get where you’re going, but you’ll miss the joy, opportunity and beauty along the way.
Looking into the future is inherent in planning, and one of the crutches we’re dealing with in life is the constant gaze into the future. It is for this reason that we find time passes so quickly. I had a woman remark to me that she was amazed that it was already January 31st. It was interesting because she clearly thought it had flown right by, but as I reflected back on it, January did not fly by for me. It was a month that I felt very aware of and in that awareness I feel the weight of the month as a part of me, as something that I was present for.
By incessantly planning we are sacrificing the present moment we are in for the future we hope to see. With our eyes always to the future we forget to live in that present moment. The feeling that time is slipping away from us comes not from our lack of time, but from our lack of awareness of that time.
The future will always be ahead of us, but the present is always slipping away from us.
IT’S NOT ABOUT WHERE YOU ARE GOING
With a plan you can see the end result you desire, and this is both good and bad. Knowing where you want to go is important to getting there, but at the same time being open to going somewhere else can and often does put you right where you need to be.
More importantly where we want to go is actually kind of pointless. What we should focus on instead is bringing what we are passionate about into the world. Our plans are always focused on the future and plans are laid with a specific end to achieve. Most often that end relates to our passions and in laying these plans we feel that we are successfully workfing towards our passions.
For instance, my wife and I have been making plans for years to pay off our debt and save up money so we can quit our jobs. We were constantly thinking about this, reviewing and tweaking the plan all the while adjusting for the surprises that occured in our lives.
Along this way I would spend time on the things I was passionate about but it was often not a genuine effort and it was always tinged with the desire to achieve our ends so we could quit our jobs and then magically everything would be perfect.
If instead we had focused our energy on our passions, and bringing them into the world as genuinely and as often as possible, I would wager my life that we would be in a very different place than we are right now.
In fact, we probably would have already left our jobs and be even more deeply immersed in our passions.
Now instead of plans, we have benchmarks
BENCHMARKS ARE BETTER THAN GOALS
With benchmarks we have attainable things to achieve along our way. However we realize that there are multitudes of ways to get to a benchmark. In knowing this we can move on a path towards realizing our passions without worrying so much about exactly how to get there.
You might call these benchmarks goals but I prefer not to think of them as goals. I think goals and all of the socioeconomic baggage that the word carries with it is counter-productive. I like benchmark because a goal implies an end, an arrival and the truth is, we never arrive. Life being the journey it is is full of beginnings and endings, but th eonly real destination, the only real arrival is the final end, and even then we’re not certain that that is THE end.
So right now we are trying to sell our house. This is a benchmark. It is an action that will open up opportunities for us in realizing our passions, but our attitude about selling the house has changed since we first started. Before there was an urgency, a feeling of NEED to sell the house so that we could move on to the next step of our plan. But we realize that we really have little control over selling our house. The whims of the market and the buyers in that market are variables that we can’t control.
With this shift in attitude we realize that the house may not sell, but we’re not fretting about it, hashing over price drops or trying to figure out if we could do something to find a buyer. Instead, we have our house on the market, and while we wait and see what the variables we can’t control do to effect the sale of our house, we are putting our energy into bringing our passions into the world.
Regardless of the sale of the house we will continue to pursue our passions, and in doing so it becomes less important that the house sells.
WE HAVE TO STOP LOOKING AT THE FUTURE
I already mentioned this but it’s a point I’m going to be bringing up often. Existing in the present is the most important thing we can do to open ourselves up to the world. There’s a quote from a book I read when I was a kid, and it has stuck with me over time. I think it illustrates this point nicely. It’s a variation of a quote that’s been out there for some time, and it goes something like this.
“The game of life means nothing, the playing of it, everything.”
Being in the right here, right now and living this moment to it’s fullest potential IS life.
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