Create a plan. Stick to the plan. Execute the plan.
This type of advice proliferates early in the year.
Plans: Friend or Foe?
Sure, it’s important to have clearly-defined outcomes, a direction to where you’re headed and destination in mind.
And, if your plan is too rigid, or your approach to your plan is too rigid, a plan may be your downfall.
The best laid plans get disrupted and diverted by the realities of life. You make a plan in a static moment, but life doesn’t stay static. There are infinite ways that life changes around us.
If you’re a planner, how do you react when things happen that derail your plan?
If you’re a person who tries to stick to the plan even as life puts up road blocks, you’re going to be in for a lot of suffering.
Same if you’re going to beat yourself up for “falling behind” your plan. Trust me on this. I speak from personal experience here.
Perhaps you’ve heard the expression:
Man plans. God laughs.
(You don’t have to believe in God. Replace God with the universe; nature; laws of physics; whatever works for you.)
I’m not saying, don’t have a plan. Plans give us comfort and security. They are an illusion of certainty that we believe protects us from the winds of change in an uncertain world. That’s why we’re so often inclined to stick rigidly to them even in the face of obstacles.
By all means, create a plan. And also recognize that there is a plan that supersedes your plan.
The Magic of Serendipity
Every year as I reflect back on my year, I see that my most pivotal moments were a result of serendipity. They often happened when I was diverted from my plan.
The universe is always speaking to us. The question is whether we are listening.
When we cling too tightly to our plan, we tend to stop listening.
When I believe the lies that “I should be somewhere else right now” instead of where I am, that I am “behind schedule” or “running out of time,” I close off and tighten up so that I can “focus” and “catch up.” Doing this might appear to be the right move to get “back to the plan,” but it dims my hearing.
I lose the messages and don’t experience the moments of serendipity.
But if, in those moments when I think I should be somewhere else, I can allow myself to remain open to where I am and what is actually happening, then I hit the jackpot. I experience the magic moments of serendipity.
Those are moments when I receive what I really need, rather than what I thought I wanted.
A higher plan is revealed.
When I open to life, life opens to me. This is what it means to be in flow.
A Constant Practice
Let’s be clear that this is challenging work.
Sometimes I’ll open to the moment and revel in the magic of serendipity, and not even five minutes later I’m back in that story of “I’m running behind.”
Bringing myself back to the moment, reminding myself to trust the higher plan, is a constant practice.
The Distraction May Be Your Destiny
Recognize that maybe what you perceive to be a distraction, diversion, or detour is really a message about your direction, destination, and destiny.
Instead of fighting it, surrender to it.
Listen to the winds that are directing you. It’s possible they know something you don’t yet know.
Maybe you are sticking to the plan, after all.