I've been doing a lot of planning lately. And making a lot of changes. I think I've started to think about planning quite differently. I used to be afraid of making any kind of concrete plan for my life beyond the relatively immediate future because I was afraid of locking myself into something that I may have wound up being very unhappy with. I was laboring under the pretense that talking about the destination, or what I wanted my life to look like, would somehow make me willing to sacrifice anything in order to get there. I was afraid of being corrupted by the process and getting myself locked in to a lifestyle or career that made me feel trapped.
I have started to think a lot more about responsibility lately, about the sort of life I envision for the future. And that doesn't necessarily mean that I want a lot of things in my future, nice as that may be. I'm more thinking about the type of life that I want to leave for my children. I want to leave a legacy. I don't want my children to have to struggle. And I want to help other people who are struggling, who are born into situations that offer less access to resources than others. I've always wanted this but until recently just sort of thought that as long as I do what feels right all the time then somehow, maybe, someday I'll magically get there.
I guess I've been living in a fairy tale.
I understand now that I have to plan and work hard for the type of future I want for my children. So I've been making some plans. But that's been a little bit scary. Those of you who know me well are aware that my wife and I have had a difficult last two years, much of that difficulty stemming from my unwillingness to make a plan for the future, my fear of getting trapped. It also had to do with some of the plans I did make not turning out how either of us expected. It has been a hard road but we are stronger for it.
Growth can be a prolonged and arduous process.
Anyway, all this planning has me thinking a lot about what it means for a plan to be successful. How do we come to a determination of whether or not things went "according to plan". After all, a plan is really only our best judgement of how things will work based on our knowledge and understanding at any given time. Sometimes circumstances arise that we could never possibly have predicted and the plan needs to be adjusted. Given that, I'm not certain that comparing how things turned out to the original plan and using that as a metric of success is the best method for determining whether or not a plan "worked out". That is not an even comparison, it's apples to oranges. The plan was made when you were a different person, living under different circumstances, with a different perspective of the world. Things change. People change. Plans must change.
So what then is a body to do? Perhaps it is not about the details of the plan but the underlying goals and motivations that drive the plan. And don't get me wrong, I'm no longer an advocate for just not having a plan. That's irresponsible. I should plan. I should budget. I should think ahead, beyond the gratification of the moment. But I also know that I'm not trapped by the specifics of that plan because things will likely change and I will need to adjust my thinking and my plan.
But I hold on to my goal. I hold on to the thing that tells me what is important. For many, that thing is faith. For others, it is a certain set of principles that they hold on to. A set of rules that guide their decisions.
I have goals. I don't want my children to feel the crushing burden of debt in order to pursue their educational goals. I want to work less and serve more. I want to leave a legacy. I want to make a difference.
What exactly my future will look like I don't yet know. I'm working on several plans right now and we'll see how they all pan out. But I know that I get to be in charge of telling my story and determining what type of legacy I want to leave for myself.
And I'm excited. I feel hopeful. I feel alive.