“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”John Lennon
When you go on vacation, are the kind of person who creates an itinerary for every second of the trip, or do you just go with the flow?
I fall somewhere in the middle of the two. I don’t want to waste time, but I also don’t want to have every second planned out, where even bathroom breaks are scheduled out. For example, I don’t just go to a restaurant willy nilly. I check yelp and look at the menu / food photos to check whether or not it’s right for me. (There’s nothing quite as disappointing as wasting time and money on a crap restaurant trip.) However, I do enjoy ‘nothing time’ where nothing is planned (literally planned) and there’s no obligations or todos to be done during that time. (I guess I’m an enigma wrapped in a juxtaposition.)
Why am I writing about this?
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how Life’s* plans for you doesn’t always match your plans for Life.
(*replace ‘Life’ with ‘God’ deepening on what you believe.)
(It’s like we’re not the center of the universe or something. Weird.)
The frustratingly cool thing is that often it’s the plans that don’t go our way, that ultimately inform who we are and what we do.
Or put more eloquently, the things that go ‘wrong’ are usually things that go ‘right’. They just so happened to be wrapped in a ‘stress-filled, extra-frustrating, mud-covered’ package. We often expect to take the freeway, but ultimately end up taking the back roads, but come out better for it.
For me, an old neck injury hasn’t ruined my life (like I probably thought when it first happened) but has given me the opportunity to dive headfirst into health and wellness, and taught me the value of pursing health. Without my injury, I don’t know if I would be into health as much as I am today. Without my injury, who would I be?
Life happens in the margins. Expectations only cloud our judgements of the opportunities in the outcomes. Plan, but expect change.
Is everything fair and good that happens to us? No. Sometimes it’s the opposite of unfair. I can’t speak to the struggle and circumstances that happens to others. Sometimes hard things are just plain hard, and it takes a lot to overcome them. But from my own circumstances I’ve found value in there stupid existence. Even if that value is not a resolution, but just a story I have I can share and help others with who have gone through or experienced similar pain.
How we handle what happens to us going forward is likely more important than what happens to us.
All that being said, I’d rather learn from history (and the mistakes of others) rather than experience mistakes I could avoid with a little forethought and planning.
Which means planning more is in my present. (Maybe not on vacation though. I can go to the bathroom whenever I want!)
Plan for the worst, Hope for the best
As the old Chinese proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” I’m going to start preparing for future outcomes, instead of just waiting for them.
Perhaps nothing is ultimately in our control, but I choose to believe that every decision we make has to count for something, no matter how small. Every decision we make right now has the opportunity to push the levers in our favor. I think it’s better to increase the probability of a good outcome than just assuming it will happen or negatively assuming it won’t. Either assumption, good or bad isn’t a great way to live.
Maybe this is what growing up and being ‘responsible’ means. Getting health and dental insurance, not because it’s worth it or helpful, but because in two years when you accidentally break your leg, you’re covered. Or when it’s time to buy a house, your past self has already planned for that inevitability and has saved for a down-payment already.
Either way, I want to focus on doing everything I can in the present to be have more freedom and flexibility in the future.
There’s a great entrepreneurial quote that says, “Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.”
I think we could expand this not only to our business, but to our lives as well.
What are the actions, thoughts, habits we can do NOW, that will benefit us later?
What can we plant today, so that in the future our fields will be full of fruit trees?
What are small things that we can do today that will have massive benefits over time?
We can’t change what happens to us, but we can change what happens going forward by moving the needle towards the positive instead of the negative.
Why do tomorrow what you can do today?
STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner
Daily Blog #579