You had one when you began your career. Straight out of college everyone has these plans — and expectations on where they will be, here is a few I hear often:
- Be married
- Own a house (really)
- Selling my start-up
- Promoted early as a ______ for [most reputable company in the world]
Why MOST life plans fail
One of the greatest reasons our 1, 2, 5 year, or life plans fail and become a source of hurt fall simply on one factor.
Plans based on events we cannot control, always lead to failure
To achieve any goal it requires our dedication, hard work, developing habits in that domain, and talent in many cases. These are all attributes YOU and I control. Unfortunately, often our goals are written as they are above where these are not controllable. These are good results, but they aren’t controllable.
Let’s unpack one or two of these goals from boomers to millenials
A goal of being married is a goal post, but isn’t really the goal one desires. It is what we think is what should happen. In fact, most want a meaningful relationship with family, friends, and a loved one. Isn’t that what we really want, not marriage?
To have meaningful relationships requires you to make time. It takes you being your authentic self and connecting with those you are attracted to similarly. You see, if you want to build a long term relationship with anyone, they need to know who you REALLY ARE as a human. Your hurts, flaws, passions, and dreams.
Selling your startup — again a common goal that misses the mark. Selling isn’t on the radar when the startup hasn’t made a $1. Selling isn’t a possibility if your customers aren’t happy, growing in number, and you are growing the business (meaning — reinvesting in it).
The goal should be to focus on those contributory factors, and only then will you have something worth selling. For that matter, you may not want to sell it when your “plan” says you want to sell it. The market may be terrible, not interested, or you are just to fulfilled to sell it.
The Wild Card, Life
Now when life is life, events happen. Life doesn’t care about your plans. It simply is a raw nature — storms, accidents, death, bankruptcy, disease, but also wild good events too. Kids are born, new loves emerge that may change your priorities, and you may track down different professional paths that you didn’t have line of site to when you began.
This reality is incredibly important for us to acknowledge. It means that while we can set a path and move forward, we cannot control what we cannot control. That is often a beautiful thing. You see when you have a plan based on what you CAN control, and is principles based then the world plays to your hand.
Building a life plan
Create a plan that caters to the areas of your life you care about today. Mine include:
- Being a good Dad
- Passions and Profession
There are no right areas to build a life plan around, you do you. The point is aim to be balanced beyond just your career and relationships.
Goals should be really principles focused vs hard targets. This means that we want to be in caring relationships that bring joy and not “married” as the goal. You see, there are many of us who are in relationships that are toxic. They hit the goal of being in a relationship, but not the principle of what was desired.
Principles are easily created by thinking about the ‘WHY’ we want and the ‘HOW’ it will be / feel. When you ask why you want to be married a few times over you uncover personal truth, and these are your goals so they should reflect you alone.
Finally, what you are seeking must be controllable. This is an important factor. We can’t control injuries (mostly); the weather; if our employer CHOOSES to promote us, etc… the list goes on forever.
Make sure YOU control the goals you have written down and can manifest the results through your direct action.
Experience is failure
Despite all we do in life, we have failed. Small and large these facts are truest across every living creature on the planet. We leap and fall. We love and lose. We build businesses, publish, and work our faces off in competition and yes, still lose.
These only mean we get to begin anew. When our focus is on the principles, we only gain experience. We learn more about what we are GOOD at in our profession, craft, relationships, and more. Failure is experience. When you restart, you are now beginning from a place with far greater resources and knowledge then you did on day 1. That is a powerful advantage.
Achieve your ambitions
Set your plan, but now with experience, build it based on principles and around what you control. This is the unlock to eliminate the negative feelings, anxiety, and judgement.
Plus, you’ll actually enjoy today as you are pulled and pushed forward with a clear heart and mind.