Posts tagged personal growth

Why Your Plan Isn’t Always the Best Plan

A few years ago, I struggled with a constant, nagging feeling that I wasn’t actually living my life. I didn’t have the community connection I craved and week after week would pass looking exactly like the one before. I had this deep-seated fear that everyone was experiencing fulfillment that I could never quite tap into.

So I became attached to the art of planning.

If things weren’t going to happen spontaneously for me – as I was convinced they did for everyone else – I would make a valiant effort to fill my calendar and say “yes” far more often than I said no. I imagined my future to be filled with realized goals, and I created smaller plans to fill larger plans.

For all intents and purposes, it worked. I was busier than I ever had been in my life, doling out chunks of time left and right because I wanted my life to be brimming with, well, life.

Having a plan gave me direction, predictability and the reassurance that I was moving towards something I could feel good about.

But what happens when the plan we’ve created isn’t the one in the cards for us?

In my last position, I started to feel this persistent itch of boredom and a gradual drain of fulfillment around the two-year mark. These feelings weren’t in the plan. I attempted to shift my attitude, believing I was experiencing an overall life-burnout that was driving this unhappiness at work.

Then, in a conversation with a friend, a no-filter moment found me saying this, “Every time I walk into the office I feel dead inside.”

And clearly, there’s no coming back from that sentiment.

It wasn’t in my long-term plan to ditch a steady and more-than-enough paycheck to pursue the hazy and hard-to-define goal of freedom. In fact, if someone would have told me a year ago to consider adding that into my plan, I would have laughed. That’s not concrete enough for me.

But believing we can always create the best plan for ourselves is ignorant at best.

I have the not-so-attractive quality of believing my way is the best way to get things done. When I was faced with a group project in school, I would often take over the entire thing because I felt that was the best way to create a cohesive final product. Not only did this disregard the talents of the other people in my group, but it left me with a ridiculously heavy workload.

In the same type of I-know-best fashion, I have come to believe the plan I carve out for myself is the absolute best-case scenario. But is that really the case?

If I would have followed through with my plan and what I deemed the “best case scenario” five years ago, I would be in a miserable marriage with a man who didn’t love or respect me in the way I deserved.

Thankfully there was a much grander plan that I would have never had the ability to piece together from my limited vantage point.

That’s the key: sometimes we can’t see the bigger picture from where we’re standing. We can’t create the best plan possible because we don’t know what will enter our path a week, a month, or a year from now.

So sometimes a plan is not having a plan or trusting that the perfect plan just hasn’t revealed itself yet.

Waking up without a set schedule and a workload that’s fluid, I’m learning something important about creating a plan: it’s not all about taking action. Sometimes it’s far more beneficial to listen and wait to be guided to the perfect next step by feeling. This is how we can allow ourselves to let the perfect plan reveal itself, instead of muscling it into fruition.

And, it’s always good to remember — sometimes the plan you spent time perfecting just wasn’t that great to begin with.

Changing My Relationship With Time

Since leaving the 3.5 walls of my cubicle and the comfortable paycheck I received in exchange for spending hours in what felt like a timeout corner, time has taken on an entirely new meaning. Time used to be what I wasted as I wrestled with the gnawing feeling that I would never feel passion towards anything work-related again. Time was what I counted as I waited for the next Friday to appear. I hated time and its insistency that it could only move at a glacial speed.

Now, with no walls surrounding me, time is something I’ve come to both respect and fear. Days that used to feel like years suddenly disappear at lightening speed, leaving me with the pit of anxiety spurred by a perceived lack of activity. Before, lack of activity would still result in a paycheck — now there’s no such safety net.

As I push forward into this new, foreign way of living, time has come to represent so may things – what was wrong with where I was, and what I will have to overcome in order to build a fulfilling life.

Time doesn’t have to be sold to the highest bidder.

We willingly hand over the vast majority of our lives in exchange for a steady paycheck. A forty-hour workweek is the accepted norm, and every pay raise just means your time is seen as slightly more valuable than before.

Instead I want to sell my work in exchange for a paycheck and have my time be my own. I want to determine when it’s best for me to allocate my time to work and when it is better spent growing the other areas of my life that are equally as important.

Time shouldn’t take center stage every day of our lives.

Yesterday, as I moved from appointment to meeting to conference call, I realized that my day had passed smoothly without any consideration given to time. It was the end of the day and it felt like it had just begun.

While some days this feeling sparks a sense of overwhelm, in this instance it suddenly felt like I had been so fulfilled that I didn’t need to wish for time to do anything else than just exist.

Passion and a sense that there are so many amazing, fulfilling things to be accomplished makes it completely unnecessary to long for another weekend or a later hour. It is entirely possible for each weekday to be filled with the satisfaction vacation can bring.

Time will pass in exactly the manner it is meant to.

I am neither ahead nor behind, I am exactly where I need to be. That is precisely what this new relationship with time is pushing me to trust.

I have always been a firm believer that life unfolds exactly at the right time in the exact manner it needs to. Therefore, a certain day on the calendar or time on the clock can not indicate to me that I have allocated my time in a way that is anything other than perfect for what I need in my life right now.

Time can just be one small indicator of where I am on this crazy journey I find myself on.

What’s your relationship to time?