How many of you could honestly say that everything in your life happened exactly the way you've planned it? Okay, I don't expect anybody to raise their hands at that one. How many of you could say that MOST of what you've planned for in life actually happened? Hmmm...I still see no hands up. Oh, wait, I think I see one hand in the back, and I see someone raising their hand half-way up.
No, life never happens completely as we've pictured it would happen. Even if you wanted to become a doctor when you were a child and have actually followed through with your plan by completing your residency, you probably aren't working where you'd thought you'd be working. At the gym where I work, the general manager is actually a doctor! He used to work in emergency medicine, but quit because he couldn't work in that environment. Inside of getting paid a six-figure salary and living in a home on the hill, he's working in a gym and I'm pretty sure he's getting paid nowhere near a six-figure income.
As for me, life didn't happen the way I thought it would. Everything that I've planned to do NEVER happened exactly as I pictured it would. So, I'm at the point where I don't even stress about all the details in my future, because most of what I'd planned to do may never happen.
However, this doesn't mean that I live my life completely by default. I don't just simply go with the flow. Instead, I just walk in the general direction of where I want my life to go. In other words, I have a general picture of my future, but I don't have any specifics laid out.
For example, I knew that I wanted to leave New York City. My specific plan was to move to Texas, but that never worked out. I wanted to be a school teacher, but then I've lost desire for it after teaching for a very brief period. I wanted to advance in emergency medical services, but that didn't work out. I pictured that I would teach adult Bible classes at church, but winded up teaching physical activities to the children. All the stuff that I originally wanted to do never happened, so why fool myself into thinking that anything would change if I keep planning out all the details for my future?
Now, having said all that, what is important to me is that I learn to recognize and grasp the opportunities that are presented to me. That is more important than planning out every detail in my life. My wife and I have spent all of our marriage grasping different opportunities as they presented themselves, and we found ourselves moving forward that way than by trying to plan out all the details of our future.
Okay, I see you're getting a little lost. Let me give this example. When I started my delivery gig, I knew that I would need a fuel efficient car, and I knew what my budget was. I didn't get caught up in the color of the car, the kind of tires it would have, the mileage it had, if it still had any warranties, if the interior was leather or fabric, etc. My general goal was to have a fuel efficient car for such and such a price. The Prius came to mind as the best choice, and in no time did we find one. The car didn't have all the best features of newer models, but then again, I wasn't even looking for those features to begin with -- most likely because I knew that I wasn't going to get those features with my budget!
So far, that Prius has saved us a lot of money on gas. It's doing exactly what I needed. The car isn't exactly what I pictured it would be, but it gets the job done.
Let me give this other example. When we were looking for a new place to stay, my main concern was that it would be cheaper than where we were staying and that it didn't have any carpet. I didn't get caught up in anything else. In no time, we found the perfect place for us, in a great location, close to friends, and close to all the places where I make money at. And it had no carpet -- that probably meant more to me than all of the other perks.
Here's another example. When looking for a job, I knew that I wanted to have something with a flexible schedule where I could see my family very often. I didn't want a job where I had to do any thinking. I wanted something simple, and I wanted the salary to be something that I could work with. Again, in no time, I found something that was just right.
So, what am I saying? If you get caught up in all the specifics in your life, you might find that you'd be going nowhere. If you have a more general picture of your life, you'd start seeing more options out there for you.
Remember that the more specific you are, the more opportunities you weed out. In some cases, this is a good thing, especially when you have to make a hefty, financial investment. But for most cases in life, being too specific is just a way of limiting yourself. Ever heard that "the sky's the limit?" Well, the more specific you are, the less likely you are to even get your feet off the ground!
When I first started searching for a wife, I had all these qualifications that she had to have. We all do it, right? We all write an unrealistic list of criteria that our future spouse must meet. But then, I became more generalized about my picture of this women, because I understood that NO PERSON is perfect. Everybody will have flaws that you'd just have to be willing to work with. My attitude was that I could learn to work with flaws, because I would have flaws that she would have to deal with. It didn't take long for me to find the right person -- online of all places! Over 11 years and two kids later, we're still happily married.
Do you want to reduce yourself to very little, or do you want to open up endless doors of opportunities?
Someone who says, "There are no jobs out there," fails to understand that there are jobs EVERYWHERE. That person needs to widen their options so that they could get to work right away instead of waiting for that one, perfect, once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity job that would most likely not come. The person who waits for everything to be just right would be the same person begging friends and family for food. The person who has an open-mind will always have bread to eat.
So, I just stopped getting tied up with all the specific details in my life. I know where I generally want to go in life, so I could focus on looking for opportunities that would take me there instead of mapping out how I'd get there. I choose to RELAX and see what my options are than to be uptight and rule out almost every opportunity that I see because they don't line up with my strict expectations.
If you're not where you are right now, it's probably not because you didn't plan enough. It's probably because you planned too much. Let go a little bit. Ask yourself where you'd generally want to be in the future. What are the things that are most important to you? Once you figure those things out, then the small details will take care of themselves.
Again, this is not to say to plan nothing, but to not get so caught up in the planning that you'd miss all the rescue boats that are sailing past you.