While I’m not a huge planner, I do have a twenty year plan for my fiction career and three years into it, I’m exactly where I want to be. This month Melinda talks about how to deal with long term planning and short term detours. -Alex.
Plans are like a road map – they tell you where to go. Not like people tell you where to go when they’re insulting you, maps (and plans) tell you in a good way. So why don’t we all plan our lives, businesses, careers and families more?
Often it’s because we can’t comprehend that far ahead. It’s hard to get our head around planning what we’ll do in 20 years time. Heck, some days I have trouble planning the next weekend!
And there’s also the “I might not want the same things then” along with “how can I plan that far ahead when I know I’m going to change in that time?” See, the thing is, by the time you get 20 years further along in life then it’s a given that you’ll want different things and that you’ll change. If you don’t change then you’re probably dead, in which case you won’t care.
Guaranteed to change
So we don’t plan. We drift. We might plan a year or two down the track, or we plan for tangible results and things we can see. Anyone here got a 30 year mortgage or a five year car loan/lease? Yes, I thought so. What we can’t see is who we’ll be in the future and so we avoid designing ourselves in advance in case it doesn’t fit with who we become on the journey.
News Flash. It’s not going to fit. You’re going to change and your plans are going to change. Guaranteed.
Guess what? In 20 years you’ll be 20 years older
Think about this. In 20 years time you’ll be 20 years older. And some things won’t change. You’ll still have your morals and values. Some things that are uber-important to you now will still be uber-important then, like family – only you’ll probably have grandkids rather than kids then.
Who do you want to be in 20 years time? How can you design your life so your values are still there, only stronger?
Road trip 101
Think of going on a long journey and how you plan it. You look at your map or GPS, and you plan where you’re going – from A to B and the road in between. Which towns you’re going to drive through. Take the faster main highway with the tolls and traffic or the longer but quieter back roads? Where will we stop for food and fuel on the way?
Then you leave and it’s night time so you turn your headlights on. Tell me, how far can you see? A couple of hundred metres, or as far as the light reaches, yes? Does that worry you, that you can’t see your destination when you leave home? Of course it doesn’t, because experience has taught you that as you drive the road will be revealed in the lights as you move forward.
Your life plans are the same. You can’t see 20 years ahead, but you can see next week, and next month. And as time passes you keep seeing next week and next month, but they keep moving on into the future as you do.
When problems happen – and they will
And sometimes as you drive there’ll be something unexpected. Roadworks. A detour. A flooded road. A flat tyre or mechanical failure. You have to work around it. Take a different route. Try a new road. Fix a problem.
Sometimes these hiccups and diversions lead to angst and frustration. You might get lost and confused. Run late. Costs more than you expected. And maybe you’ll discover something new along the way. Unexpected and exciting. Something you’d never have seen if not for the detour.
And always your headlights are showing just that bit of road immediately in front of you. Yet you still know where you’re headed in the end, even though you can’t see it and the signs may not even be pointing to it yet. You know, you’ve planned the road.
So what are you going to do about it?
You’re eventually going to be 20 years older than you are now. Are you going to allow yourself to drift directionless, going wherever the road takes you? Or are you going to plan who and what you want to be and deal with the changes and hiccups along the way to becoming that person?
Melinda Brennan is a business coach who woke up one day and realised that she was 20 years older and hadn’t notice the years passing. Now she’s becoming who she wants to be and loving a deliberately planned life. Hiccups, detours, roadblocks and all.
Check out what she’s doing at WAHM Biz Builder