One of the most frequent questions we get about planning and goal setting is: how can I set goals and plan if I can’t predict the future, and life changes so much? Some people refrain from planning altogether because they feel so powerless. How can one possibly control life? How can I guarantee that I’m really going to reach my goals?
There’s a few issues with those common questions:
1. The first one is that life doesn’t change as much as people assume. Yes, we can’t predict the future, but it’s not as if we live in a war zone! Major unexpected changes rarely happen. We can perfectly plan and work towards our goals without any major disturbance from “life”.
2. Second, we don’t need to control life in order to reach our goals. That’s another big myth. We plan and we do our own thing. If we find obstacles, we work to overcome them. If we fail, we try again, or revise our plans. This idea arises in people that feel like they need to know and control every single aspect of their lives. They try to control situations, other people, and of course, if they plan, they attempt to control every single aspect of it. The root of this behavior is insecurity.
3. And third, if you expect guarantees to start doing something in your life, I’m sorry to inform you, but you’re already a loser! If you’ve read my articles before, there’s a chance you’ve heard me saying this: guarantees are for losers! Only losers expect certainty. Life is uncertain. I don’t know if I’ll be alive tomorrow. Heck, I could be dead in a few hours for all I know! If you need to make sure something will definitely work before you even start, you won’t do much with your life.
Life is like sailing
This metaphor is old. You’ve probably heard it before. It’s so true, isn’t it? We live as if we were sailboats sailing on the sea of life. We can’t control nature, we can’t control the oceans, all we can do is lead our little boat to whatever direction we want to go and adapt to changes and obstacles along the way.
That’s exactly what sailors have been doing for thousands of years. Sometimes they fail, but more often than not, they reach their goals and arrive at their desired destinations.
Planning is much like sailing. Life can be as unpredictable as the oceans, but we can still manage to reach our destinations without the need to control anything but ourselves.
Don’t get caught up on the “what if’s” surrounding the uncertainties of life.
But what if I waste all this time and things don’t work out in the end?
Well, let’s rephrase it this way:
What if you don’t do anything because you’re so afraid that it might not work?
I don’t really get this rationale. What are the consequences of just not doing anything? Isn’t that worse than trying and failing?
Sometimes all it takes is a little meditation. Think about your fears, all those “what if’s” that keep you from being as productive as you could be. When we think profoundly about things, we tend to find that our line of thinking is flawed in many ways.