Ep #17: Why You Should Stop Making Plans for Your Future

Never in a million years did I think I’d be saying goodbye my long-term plans. But I’ve learned that the more tightly we hang on to our own, personal agenda, the more we close ourselves off to bigger and better solutions and possibilities. When we learn how to stop obsessing over the “need” to have a plan, we can learn to become more receptive to the guidance all around us. Today, I’m going to show you why I ditch “the plan” and follow my heart instead.

WHAT YOU’LL LEARN:

  • Why making a 1-year, 5-year or 10-years plans might actually be doing more harm than good and why you might want to consider ditching your plans altogether
  • Why plans are nothing more than illusions!
  • The difference between future plans and “plans of action!” What’s beneficial and what’s not?
  • How to know if you’re following the “right” plan or the “wrong” plan
  • How to STOP obsessing over the need to have a plan
  • How to become more open and receptive to the Universe– and what it has in store for you

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TRANSCRIPT

Welcome back everybody. Thanks so much for being here as always.

Today, I am excited to talk to you about why making plans for your future might actually be doing more harm than good and why you might want to consider ditching your plans altogether.

Never in a million years did I think I’d take an eraser to my 10 year, 5 year, 1 year and even monthly plan, never mind advising others to do the same.

I was the girl in HS who planned out the next ten years of her life…I’m going to graduate college, get a high-paying, big girl job at 23, be married by 25, have my first baby at 27, buy my dream home by the age of 30 in a small town (most likely) and live happily ever after.

Yup, that was my future plan! Well, as you most of you know, my life didn’t exactly turn out that way.

I’m 32, not married, no kids, living in a big city, in an apartment and riding the solopreneur wave.

It’s just really funny when I think about it. Ya know I look back and wonder, what if I had stuck to that plan? When I was 23-years old, after going to college, I was working in a corporate environment and it was considered a “big girl job.” So I was “on track.” But when I realized, “WHOA, I’m really unhappy and I’m burying my potential on this narrow path,” THANKFULLY (and I say that in all capital letters), I allowed myself to become fluid enough where I was willing to stray from “the plan”– I was willing to uproot the foundation of my life and where it was headed at that time.

And boy, I am so happy and proud of myself that I had the courage to step away from my plan and step into some scary, unknown territory. Because if I had stuck to  “the plan,” I’d probably be at the same job (or something in a similar sector), married to my ex-boyfriend (and he’s now an ex for a reason) and I’d be having children at a time in my life that I wasn’t ready to be a mom.

So needless to say, that doesn’t sound like a happily ever after.

Now, this show is not just about me and my life and how my plans haven’t served me– my intention is to be a mirror for you and your own life, so that you can see how plans may not be serving you in the direction you’re meant to travel and ultimately preventing you from living your best life.

The first thing that I want to say is…making plans (and sticking to plans) can be a form of fear. At this point, it’s not breaking news that our ego minds do not like the unknown. Our egos are terrified of change. It’s scary and it’s unnerving. So in an attempt to avoid the unknown and all the uncomfortable feelings that accompany it, we do everything and anything in our power to control our destiny. And one of the easiest ways to do this is to create plans.

We think that if we have a map in front of us of what our future will be and what our future will look like, it’ll take ALL the guessing out of the equation and THEN we can rest easy. It’s our way of taking something unknown and transforming into the known.

This is what a lot of my clients try to do. They realize, “OH, shoot. I’m living a life that is all wrong for me. This isn’t who I am or what I want. BUT, I don’t know what’s on the other side of this. So in attempt to avoid a complete freak-out, their minds go into overdrive. They overthink and overthink and overthink.

What’s my plan? I gotta have a plan. I don’t like not having a plan. My parents are going to kill me if I don’t have a plan. I need to choose something– go back to school, get another job, whatever it is, I just need structure.

And they try to carve out their future (when in reality, they’re not in a good space to do so and make those bigger decisions).

Because their decisions in that phase are all FEAR based. They’re like I have to have a plan because I’m scared not too. So I’m just going to do this thing and head in this direction. Instead, of slowing their roll, getting comfortable with not knowing or not having a plan for a while and then letting their “master plan” unfold from a place of love, excitement and passion.

So I want you to look at your own life. Think about a plan that you created in the past or strategies that you’re putting into action right now. Did you scheme up these blueprints from a place of fear or from a place of love?

This is a very important question. Please do not underestimate it.

Because here’s the thing you guys, we all create plans in one form or another. I have a plan to meet my friends for lunch, I have a plan to travel to Europe this summer, and once upon a time, I had a plan to pursue a coaching career.

There’s nothing wrong with plans, persae, but where we can go wrong is how we approach plan making, why we’re creating them in the first place and how heavily we rely on them for our future success and happiness.

So first, you want to get real with yourself. WHY have I made this plan for myself?

For example, if your plan is to go back to school because you’ve wanted to be an accountant since the day you got your first calculator in the third grade and you’ve realized this long-lost dream of yours, then fantastic. But if your plan is to go back to school for accounting because you hate your current job and have no idea what else you’d do instead and both your parents were accountants and you want to avoid the pressure to get your shit together”…well OK then…that’s probably not the most solid plan.

Is your vision for your future in alignment with your true self?

Back when I was in HS, I had that 10-year vision(at a time in my life that I had no idea who I was or what I really wanted). I just grabbed a hold of it because A.) my teachers and parents were pressuring me to have a plan after graduation and B.) I was scared about what was around the corner. I mean graduating high school is a scary time. You’re leaving behind everything you’ve known for so long– your family rituals and home life, your friends and other familiar faces, your normal everyday activities to embark on this entirely new chapter– having no idea what’s in store. So it was my way of saying, “It’s going be OK. There’s nothing to be scared of. Good paycheck, marriage and baby…your future is bright Shaina.”  

If some fairy future godmother came along my senior year and said, actually Shaina. You’re going to have a tough time in your twenties. You’re going to hit a patch of depression, struggle with money and hit rock bottom…I probably would’ve locked myself in my childhood bedroom. Seriously!

Having a plan melts away our fears (in the short-term) because it creates an illusion that the rest of our life is going to be smooth sailing.

For example…

I’m going to accept this job. Then, I’ll work there for a few years and then I’ll get promoted and then I’ll make more money and then I’ll get that dream house. And it’s a pretty big office, so somewhere along the way, I’ll meet a friend of a friend, we’ll fall in love and I’ll be married in the next 7 years.

Right? A plan is our attempt to avoid problems or obstacles along the way.

But we all know that life is anything but problem free and smooth sailing. Things happen outside of ourselves all the time that’s out of our control.

We accept that job. We realize we hate the job that we’re doing, but we work our ass off anyway because we’re smack dab in the middle of our 10-year plan– just to watch Bob get that promotion 5 years later. And we still haven’t met Prince Charming.

Guys, the Universe doesn’t give a crap about my or your plans.

And the more we sit back and wait for things to just pan out the way we’ve planned for them to happen, the more time we waste in situations that we’ve outgrown– situations that are NOT in alignment with our true selves and our higher plan.

Amen to that!

Our higher plan is way more lucid than the concrete, strict plan we have in our mind or on a piece of paper.

A lot of us think we know exactly what we want and exactly how to achieve it, but more times than not, what we think we want is vastly different from what we actually need to grow, to evolve, to live our best life.

The Universe is the biggest and best classroom of all time, it’s constantly handing out lesson after lesson– but so many of us approach our days with this stubborn mentality that we become completely closed off to its teachings. And it leaves us feeling like it’s us against the world. But it’s not. The solutions that you’re seeking are there. The answers are inside of each and every one of us. We’re being guided. We have that internal guidance system, but we can’t possibly tap into it when our feet are so firmly planted in our plans.

We’re always changing– our desires, our wants, our ideas so to be so stubborn is to be so naïve. We must be willing to be adaptable and flexible and wake up to say, “Ya know what this “plan”– this job that I thought was it for me isn’t working. This person that I thought was the “one” for me, isn’t. This marketing tactic that I thought was going to lead to my big break, hasn’t so let’s try something new and let’s try something different. Let’s change it up.” 

You may not know what that change looks like, but that’s OK. Your job is to A.) recognize this isn’t working, the way I had planned and B.) tap into your internal guidance system so that you can feel your way to the next move or better yet, the new plan.

 The Universe has so many amazing things in store for you and me, but as long as we hang onto the old because of our own agenda, we can’t possibly open the door to the bigger and better.

And guys I’m telling you, when you finally close that door on something that’s not working–something that feels like you’re trying to push a boulder up a mountain, what’s waiting for you is always better, better than you could’ve imagined for yourself. Better than that silly plan you came up with.

But so many people refuse to close one door and open the next, because of change. Because they can’t see what’s behind door #1 or door #2 or door #3.

But that fear is not a good reason to stay stuck in a situation that’s not working for you.

A good scientist never repeats the same experience twice, expecting different results. If you think that by waiting it out will generate new results or a new state of well-being, you’re going to be waiting for a very long time.

Sometimes people refuse to stray from the plan because they’re too “proud” or not willing to cut their losses and just walk away.

When I realized that going to a 4-year college and giving the institution $80,000 of my money did absolutely nothing for my future and success, that was a hard pill to swallow you guys. I’m still financially paying for it. But instead of being stubborn and saying, “I paid all this money, I spent four years of my life to work in the PR industry, so damn it, that’s what I’m going to do.” No. I had to come to terms with the fact that, that plan was not going to work out for me. That plan did not feel good. That plan was ultimately created on a foundation of fear and pressure. And if I continued with that plan, because of my own pig-headed self, I’d be paying a much bigger price than I already had.

I had to cut my losses. I had to walk away from that chapter of my life. Otherwise, we just end up digging a bigger hole for ourselves.

Also, when we hold on so tightly to what our futures are supposed to look like, we are at risk for some major disappointment.

One of the examples that always comes to mind is women who plan to be married and starting families at a certain age. And when that doesn’t happen (for whatever reason­– they haven’t met the right person, they’re struggling with infertility), we feel bad because our expectations have not been met. And the reason for that is when we have an idea in our mind about how our lives will unfold, we’re placing our emotional well-being on this external circumstance– that in reality, may or may not happen…regardless if it’s part of your plan.

Again, the higher power at work doesn’t care. Yes, sometimes it will conspire to your desires and other times it won’t. But putting so much emphasis on it to do so, A.) prevents us from taking full responsibility for our emotional well-being (right? because we’re going to constantly blame our parents or the job for why things aren’t working out) and B.)it takes away our ability to adapt and form new plans, when called upon to do so.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s OK to have a starting point– to identify this is what I want, this is my ideal vision for me and my future. That is, in a sense a plan.

In fact, that’s really important. In order to get what we want, we’ve gotta know what that is. Once you connect to your goals, you then do some scheming. What can I do to make this happen? How can I make this a reality? Essentially, what’s my plan of action?

As an action-oriented person, I know how critical the scheming stage is and creating specific strategies for specific goals.

Becoming a problem-solver is not the problem here. The problem is when we hang on so tightly to our mental diagram, that we close ourselves off to other options, solutions, resources and possibilities.

This happens a lot in business.

It happened with me. After I went through coach training, I had a plan. I went to Staples and I bought a big piece of white foam board and I wrote down, step by step, my plan of action.

And one of the biggest parts of the plan was to write a weekly blog post as I was told to do by other coaches. They told me, this is going to be the first step in growing your business (ding, ding, ding: rule-following).

If any of you watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, he has the word of the day…and every time you hear that word, you take a sip of your drink. I should start doing that with the word “rule-following” on this show. Spice things up a little. However, most of you listen while driving so actually that’s probably a terrible idea.

Anyway, so I had my plan. I was going to write a weekly blog post and that’s how I was going to build a following and build my one on one clientele. Now, because other coaches were saying how this worked wonders for them, I was like GREAT! This is the plan to get the ball rolling. Well, I was writing my blog, week after week after week after week. I was not only hearing crickets, but it felt like a chore that I dreaded doing every week. It did not feel good to sit down and write a blog post. My intuition was screaming, girl change gears. But I couldn’t hear what it was saying, because I was so fixated on my plan. So I just kept going in the same direction. So I not only got caught in the trap of following somebody else’s rules, but I also got caught in the trap of following my own rigid rules. I held on so tightly to this plan, that I was so closed off to my intuition and the different direction that it was trying to point me to.

I’m not kidding you, when I finally dropped away from my personal agenda, I went back to doing the things that felt joyful and that’s when I stumbled on a few YouTube channels that inspired me to create my own. And from there, gave birth to my new weekly blog. It was the new plan. A plan that I didn’t even think of. It was something that I was led to just by engaging in activities that I enjoyed. The solution to my problem was always there, I was just so laser-focused that I could not see it.

And then guess what? Once I put this new plan of action into play, that’s what started to create the traction that I desired.

So here’s the thing you guys…knowing what you want is half the battle. You’ve done the self-discovery work and your vision and goals are in alignment with your true self. Fantastic. But when it comes to the HOW, how you’re going to achieve those things, you must learn to ditch your plans and follow your heart as you move along.

And I know that’s easier said than done, because again, not knowing the HOW– the exact steps of how you’re going to achieve XYZ is unnerving for people. It makes our dreams seem almost impossible.

Can you imagine if somebody asked me years ago, how are you going to leave your full-time job to find your passion and then build your own business?

Can you imagine if my response was, “I don’t know. I don’t really have a plan. I just know that this is what I want to do and I’ll figure it out as I go along.”

You then get a look of shock and dismay from that person, because remember they too fear the unknown. So now they’re going to project their own fears onto you– That’s crazy! You’re nuts!

And it is, it’s going to sound nuts. Maybe this entire episode sounds nuts to you. I don’t know.

But looking back, that’s actually exactly what I did. I quit my job with nothing lined up and I moved 3,000 miles away without a plan. And guess what? I survived and what was waiting for me on the other side of fear, was 10 times better.

And no, I’m not sitting here telling you to quit your job and go live life on the seat of your pants. I’m simply encouraging you to practice being more open and adaptable to change, to new possibilities and new solutions…because when you can learn to do that, the better the life you will create.

Know what you want. Get clear in the path you want to pursue and that goal you’re excited about. But please don’t obsess about the HOW. Don’t cling onto the step by step process of how to get from here to there. Because your plan is not always going to work. In fact, it’ll probably fail 100 times. But that’s OK. Your job is to just be there when it does. To not make it mean anything about you or what you’re capable of, but to instead learn the lesson, figure out what your next, new course of action is and then implement.

You should be looking a few feet ahead of yourself. What feels good now? What course of action feels the most exciting right now? How can I create more happiness right now?

And that’s not to say that you can’t and shouldn’t plan for your future in a responsible way. Yes…save money, invest, plan for your retirement, all good and great.

These things are essentially you planning for unseen, unexpected events. So good work.

However, be conscious of whether you’re planning for the future, practically, or living for the future mentally and spiritually.

These are two very different things.

Scheduling my 6-month dental cleaning and saving X amount of dollars a week is a different kind of planning, than staying at a job I hate to make money so then I can plan for my retirement and then in 40 years finally travel and then start working on that book I’ve always wanted to write.

OK? That is not planning for your future. That is living for your future because of fear. Big distinction there.

So as we wrap up here…

Yes, I make plans. However, I don’t make long-term plans, because my desires are always changing. I’m always changing. What I need and what I want may be different from what I need or want next year at this time. And there are things that happen outside of me that I can’t possibly foresee or control.

Instead, I create goals that excite me now, I scheme up a plan of action and I put it into play.

I observe what’s working and what’s not. I’ve learned the value in being open and receptive to what the Universe is offering me and the solutions that offer themselves to me. I’ve learned to walk away more easily. If something didn’t work out as planned, it means nothing about me, but rather there’s a lesson to be learnt. And from there, I create a new plan of action (just a few feet ahead of me from my truest self) and I let that lead the way.

So please remember that the only permission you need to ditch that strict plan that may not be working for you is YOU! Be open and receptive and ride that wave of change, because when you do, I know that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

That’s it for today guys. Thank you so much for listening as always. I’ll see you next time!

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