I am a natural born planner. For as long as I have been able to remember I have been making lists and setting out the exact dates for important milestones in my life. I have known, in a general sense, what I have wanted to do with my life from a very young age.
I am aware that this is not commonplace for people my age. I know that there are plenty of planners like myself alive and well, but we are hard to come by through mere social interactions.
It is a very bad habit of mine to obsess over the need for all elements of my plan to go right. I often struggle with the idea of something not fitting exactly into the mold of what I want my life to look like. Is this a problem, you might ask? I certainly can be; I used to spend more time planning than experiencing. Seen from that perspective, you might reconsider your obsession with upping you planning game.
Panicking over change practically drove me insane until I realized just how unhealthy it was.
Thankfully, I’ve learned to ease off a bit on my lists, goals, and tendency to spend all of my time mapping out the future. Appreciating experience has made me realize a very important common thread with life-planning: It is not all that. In fact, strong planning can ultimately do more harm to your sense of self-worth than you imagine. The expectations that others set for you are hard enough, but consider this: letting yourself down is much worse.
I increasingly feel that life should not be lived to a cut and dry schedule. Alternatively, think of your future planning as a rough outline that is gradually added to. Know that life will throw you curveballs, and a “looser” plan will be more adept at hitting back at them. Our lives change in unexpected ways, and the people and events in our day-to-day activities will cause us to deviate us from our plans. These deviations can come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and magnitudes. And they can be blessings in disguise.
I grew up afraid of change. It has taken me a very long time to grow accepting of whatever life may bring my way. Panicking over change practically drove me insane until I realized just how unhealthy it was.
There is nothing smart about making yourself sick over your future. A good friend reminded me recently that my life would go on even if everything did not go according to plan. I was instantly anxious and a little bit angry. Wasn’t I a failure if I didn’t manage to reach every goal I set and accomplish everything I set out to do? Absolutely not.
My life will not end if there is a fork in the road. I have to live as if there is a roadmap in front of me with multiple routes to the same destination. I will plan. But I will experience, learn, react to setbacks, and be more flexible and self-assured person by giving myself a break from time to time. I now plan with purpose—not permanence.