As 2020 closes on one of the most transformative years for our country, can we agree that not much has gone as any of us planned? For just about everyone, life and any intentions we may have had for the year to this point have been altered in one way or another. Our jobs, finances, school, relationships and even how we shop—all of these may look a little, or a lot, different these days.
As a professional, I’ve built my career on planning—for myself and my clients. I have witnessed, and even experienced for myself, plans that have been completely derailed without notice. When this happens, it’s hard not to just throw in the towel figuring the focus and energy spent on the initial planning was completely wasted. I’ve also seen some planners completely scrap their well thought-out and beautifully crafted strategies and watched as their previous efforts spoil, the result of being overwhelmed by tasks left undone.
Unfortunately, some people believe changing the original goal or adjusting their priorities in a plan is the same as quitting. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A GOOD plan is a process, and while it may fluctuate, it is a reliable system that you can revisit in order to readjust and refocus. When life goes sideways—and trust me, it will—a plan is something solid that can be molded to respond to current situations. Although the direction may change, the work done to date is not wasted.
In fact, the BEST plans are ones you stay actively engaged with and revisit often enough that they become a practice, a habit and a way of living. Even if it changes somewhat, the practice creates certainty and ease in the face of massive change. During 2020, I’ve personally had to review and edit my task, priority, and goal lists weekly, daily and sometimes hourly. It has been a year to polish the art of making choices, and most of those decisions weren’t ones we even wanted to make.
So, like many of you, I have found myself often in the struggle to find the sweet spot of remaining committed to important goals I’ve created, flexible enough to re-adjust my expectations, while also constantly reminding myself of why. This often comes down to the passion for the work I do, the life I want to live, and my own values. As life circumstances changed, I chose to grow because of it and make the necessary adjustments in order to stay the course.
The key? Don’t run from a foiled plan. Instead, find a little self-kindness and grace for yourself. These times are HARD. It’s not changing quickly. For me, practicing some patience with myself and the circumstances we’re in is important because decisions made in frustration are not likely to carry me where I want to be. We are the designers of our lives and of our own plans. The vast majority of what is on our lists, we have placed there ourselves. We may do so unconsciously, or we can do so intentionally. Re-visit your plans, and make purposeful adjustments to help you get back on track.
Thank you 2020 for reminding us that we are not always in complete control, but we do still have the power to re-write our own stories when life doesn’t go as planned. I hope we can all look forward to 2021 with renewed optimism and a little well-earned wisdom—we can get through massive life change even when it isn’t easy or part of the initial plan.
Wishing you a 2021 filled with joy, love and kindness for yourself and all in your community.