Whenever you plan anything, whether it is a wedding, career path, relationship, vacation, anything, it WILL NOT match your original vision. Maybe on occasion, things will turn out close to the plan. In many instances, you may be happier with the different end result. And other times, you may be disappointed.
Think about it — did you change your major in college? Have you ever changed career paths? Were you ever in a relationship that you thought would last forever, but it ended? Have you ever moved to a new city that you never thought you would move to? Unplanned pregnancy? Difficulty getting pregnant? Experienced loss of a loved one that was not due to old age? Most people I know will answer yes to at least one of these questions. So, you are not alone :).
I am a dreamer. I like to plan and have many personal goals. However, there are a lot of factors in my life that screw up my plans that are out of my control. Here are some basic examples:
- The actions of others
- The weather
- Public transportation
- Delayed flights
- Power outages
- Getting laid off (in many cases)
- Getting sick
3.5 years ago, I took a leap of faith and moved from Cleveland to Boston after I accepted an exciting marketing internship offer at a tech startup. I signed a full-year apartment lease even though my offer letter said the internship would last 3 months (bold move, AF). However, my higher-ups at the company gave me the confidence that this internship could turn into a full-time position if I performed well and if the company had the headcount. Things were great, I loved that job. I learned a ton and worked with great people. I wanted to stay there a while. Although I did not have much experience at the time, I remember I worked hard to prove that I was worthy of being a full-time employee. Then my 3-month contract came to an end, and it was time to find out whether or not I would become a full-time employee… Guess what? The internship did not turn into a full-time role. Instead, they renewed my contract for another 3 months. This happened again 3 months later, and then 3 months after that. I started to lose energy because things were not going according to plan. I did, however, leave that company with great connections and stronger marketing skills.
Then I got a full-time offer at another company. My plan was to stay at the company for a few years… Guess what? I stayed at that company for 9 months.
I was a trainwreck. I was disappointed and thought the world was out to get me. However, I am still alive, and I have a job that I love in a different industry.
I look back at myself 3.5 years ago and laugh because I was so sure that if I simply worked hard, that I would get what I wanted. I thought that I was in control. Boy was I wrong.
Forgive me if I sound like Ted Mosby (he’s a great character).
I am a huge fan of the show How I Met Your Mother. If you haven’t seen the show, I won’t spoil anything. But for those who have seen the show, I believe the moral of the whole series is that things don’t go according to plan. How I Met Your Mother is one of the most realistic shows I’ve ever seen. No bullshi*t fantasy. Not an extremely happy ending. Just Ted Mosby’s average life, with ordinary friends, who experience very typical bumps in the road, just like all of you reading this blog post.
So… what is the point of planning anything?
Direction is good. It keeps us moving. My point is to not be disappointed when you hit a detour.
What should you do when things don’t go according to plan?
You move on. You learn. You acknowledge that bumps in the road are entirely normal. You find relief in the fact that you are free to change direction. And most importantly, whenever you create a new plan, be sure to remind yourself that things will probably not go as planned.