I thought this quote in a way resonates what I am writing about today,
'It is how we embrace the uncertainty in our lives that leads to the great transformations of our souls' - Brandon A Trean
So, the question is should we plan our life, or should we live for the moment? Better still how do we plan our life? This is a question probably we ask or have asked ourselves a lot many times throughout our life.
If you decide to find an answer to these questions probably you will find strong arguments both for and against it. For many of us, our life plan had probably been drafted even before we were born. In a predictable world which is stable, you or your parents or teachers would envisage how your happy and successful life should look like. You would then make plans and agree on the best possible plan, gather resources to achieve the plan and lastly implement it. This is the traditional approach which is what we are indoctrinated with. But life is rarely predictable, our careers rarely move in a straight line, even for the happy and successful people. It is quite rare to find someone, for whom everything has panned out in life as they had planned, right from childhood through to their adulthood days! Time is very uncertain especially as we see in the current scenario. Chances are that even if we plan or had planned, we may never achieve the goal or land somewhere extremely far away from where we wanted to be.
So, should we not plan our life, why should we even attempt to put that much effort if we know that it is never going to happen? Should we give up having goals or working towards achieving them? Well if you ask me, I will say one should still have a plan to know in which direction one's life should go or is going. Without it, you are not letting yourself get to your highest potential. I am not a life coach but based on experiences, I would say that we still need to have a plan. Make it flexible enough to adapt to uncertainty, giving ourselves ability to change our course when needed, to achieve our goals. So here are the reasons why planning our life is important.
Have you ever been asked 'where do you see yourselves in 2 years, 5 years or even 10years time? Probably yes, the question itself can be very annoying, but if you look at it closely, it is about your priorities. At various stages of life, as human beings, we have different priorities. There are many important things such as education, family, friends, work, or anything that we value and there are other things - activities, tasks, processes that are mundane, yet necessary to support the important ones. Without a plan, there is a chance that we may get so caught up in the never-ending tasks and activities and miss out on things which we value or consider important. In the end we may feel our life is empty, having gathered nothing valuable, although we were busy throughout the journey. Planning helps you understand and identify your priorities.
As the famous educator and author Stephen Covey said
'The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule but to schedule your priorities'
Part of planning is setting goals. Planning and setting goals give us the mental push to get out of bed and do what we must do to achieve them. If your plan is to travel the world or buy a new house, you are motivated to work hard and save money; if you want to be the best guitarist in town, you will be motivated to practice well. Goals do not have to be long term and big, which can make them seem quite daunting. You can set short term and achievable goals which will keep you motivated and keep you going towards your ultimate goal.
Planning gives us a sense of purpose. It gives us the reason to focus and channelize our energy into achieving what we want to achieve in life. A popular saying goes, ' A human without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder'. Purpose gives us the sense of direction, keeping us positive and keeping negativity at bay.
Planning is not only about how we get there but also about setting a destination. We should feel satisfaction and accomplishment when we reach a goal. Without planning we do not know where we want to be and hence, we wouldn't know if we are at the place we wanted to be. Thus, there will be no sense of satisfaction or achievement even if we finally arrive at our destination.
Decision making and strategy
Without a plan, we do not have any direction in our life. Hence when opportunities come, we may opt for something which seems the easiest way out as nothing will make any difference. Whereas, if we have a plan, our decisions will be based on our goal. So, for e.g. we decide to reduce luxury or non-essential shopping trips to save for our ultimate dream car! All the actions and small steps that you will take will be aligned towards achieving your goals
Planning also allows us to design the routes to reach our goal. There can be many ways and strategy will help us reach our goals in the best possible way.
Finally, the reason we should plan our life is to achieve success. But again, remember success is very relative and means differently to different people. For some, success could be having a lot of money, fame etc, for others it could be happiness or pursuing one's passion. Ultimately, success would mean achieving the goals we had set in our plan.
Whatever the goals maybe, planning will help us to be successful at different stages of our life. True success in the end is when you are able to look back and feel proud of the obstacles that you overcame to reach where you are today, and not because it happened by chance but because you were positive, persistent and tenacious with your plan.
How should we plan our life when times are uncertain?
When you have a plan, you feel in control of your life, you are better prepared to face any situation that comes your way. When there is uncertainty, it is natural that we feel very unsettled. Smart planning allows us to adapt to new situations when we may have to change strategy or take a detour. It is exceedingly difficult to picture what a dream job or ideal career or what success will look like during uncertainty. In these times our traditional belief, for e.g. of bagging our dream job because we had studied hard and planned for it may not be the best approach. I agree to what Paul B Brown- Entrepreneur & co-author of 'Start - Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty & Create the Future' says in an article in 2013 about planning during uncertainty, and I paraphrase- 'instead of looking for our ideal job, we should create it either within the current organisation or on our own'.
According to Paul, we should start by asking ourselves about our priorities, things that we value, consider skills that we possess and base our plan on the answers that we get. We should determine our desire first, take the first step, learn from it, take another step, learn from it, and repeat until we have a job, an ideal career, business or have achieved our goal.
Celebrate your successes along the way
In the process of planning and achieving, we should not forget to celebrate the successes at each stage. Do not get so deep into the process of planning and achieving that you forget that the journey matters too. When you know that you have your plan in place and you are taking steps, it makes it easier to live in the moment, enjoy life and be happier. Remember, there is only one life to live but ignorance is not always bliss. :-)