Letting Go of a Lifetime of Planning
I used to have my whole life planned out. Actually, I’ve probably had at least three different versions of my entire life- all planned out- and I started early.
I decided as a young girl that I wanted to be President of the United States. In hindsight, I think that was because it was the most impressive thing I could think of, and I wanted to be impressive. I picked my college when I was a Freshman in high school. And I decided I would go to law school (it seemed like a good path to becoming President, I had good rhetorical skills, and I had the impression that lawyers helped people– I know some people might beg to differ, but this was what I thought).
Some of these plans came to fruition. I went to the college I had picked early on. I even went to law school. That’s where my plans started to fall apart, though, because I hated law school.
I decided that I might still love being a lawyer, so I pushed on. I had invisioned a life where my career would be most important to me, and my dutiful (imagined) husband would work from home and care for our kids while doing so (are you seeing that my plan had cracks in it yet?).
Fast forward to meeting my real husband, who had a big career of his own and my own realization that I hated being a lawyer. In my mind, this meant it was time for another plan. It required a new life all planned out, so I set about the task of figuring out my next incarnation (complete with a total road map for exactly how it would play out).
Along the way, my husband and I settled in Boston and started to have a family. I had grown up in New England (after moving around a lot as a little girl), and most of my close family still lived in the area. I assumed we’d stay in Boston forever.
Fast forward to us living in Washington, D.C. (where we’ve lived for three and a half years) and a move to San Francisco planned for next year. So much for that plan. I still miss Boston (except for in the dead of winter), but life seems to have had a different plan for us.
In fact, recently I’ve realized that all of my planning really wasn’t necessary. Not only did real life get in the way of my imaginary life’s plans, but I didn’t need to have the whole thing planned down to its last detail, because life had it covered. The Universe takes care of things, often in better ways than we could have ever planned, without us pulling every string and planning every inch of it.
This isn’t to say that I have no goals or things I’d like to accomplish in life. But I also don’t feel like I have a carefully constructed house of plans that will crumble if the slightest thing goes differently than I expected (like I used to). I can set intentions, have hopes and dreams, but I don’t have to have a detailed hard copy of a 5, 10, and 20 year plan guiding my every move. I can go with the flow and expect that there may be some unexpected things along the way.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my old plans lately because 2012 is upon us, and that was the year I had decided years ago that I would run for President (having determined when I was in high school that 2012 would be the first year I met the Constitutional age requirement to run that also coincided with an election year– I know you’re thinking “what kind of nerdy freak were you?” and I get it, I was). Fast forward to the actual 2012 when I am so disillusioned with politics that I cannot imagined putting all of the effort required into running for office. It all makes me laugh.
And the funny thing is that I have a feeling that 2012 is going to be a great year (even though I will not be President ). Even though I’ve let go of my plans. Or maybe because of it. I now have enough faith in life and the Universe to know that tons of planning isn’t actually necessary. I now know that when we give life enough space to work its magic it can surprise us in amazing ways. Because my real husband turned out to be a thousand times better than my imagined one, my kids are some of my favorite people, and I love spending real time with them rather than just expecting my husband to care for them while I go off and do “important” things, I enjoy writing essays and articles much more than legal briefs, and now I’m actually the one who works from home. So it all worked out, despite all my planning.
Here is to a wonderful 2012 for all of us. May your wildest dreams come true, and may life surprise you in wonderful ways.