I Planned Out My Entire Life and It Almost Drove Me Insane

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.

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Planners tend to write down their each and every goal and intention. Photo: Practical Health Psychology

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.

Photo: Gifer

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.

Author: Melina Poulsen

Melina Poulsen is currently a senior and this is her first year writing for The Eye. She's originally from Argentina, but has lived most of her life in Brazil, which is her favorite place in the world. She has an undying passion for music and would say it is one of the few things she couldn't live without. She can be contacted at poulsen49072@sas.edu.sg.

One thought

  1. It took me years of motherhood before I learned what you learned in high school. Glad to see that you have gotten off the “Tightrope” because the forks in the well-planned road of life makes life much more enriching and may even provide good stories to tell.


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