The problem with planning

There’s this really awesome quote by this guy named Joseph Campbell that I have been hung up on for years. Google would tell you that Campbell’s work as an author and a professor at Sarah Lawrence College covers the “aspects of human experience” – feel free to dig a little deeper into that one on your own.

The quote I am referring to, however, reads as follows:

“We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

So powerful I would legit tattoo that somewhere everyone could see everyday, just probably not my forehead.

I find myself coming back to this quote often, and at many phases of my life. I don’t remember when I first stumbled upon it, but I would guess I was probably a freshman or sophomore in college. As a student athlete I remember running face first into many obstacles, as do most of us. But I was one of those kids who siphoned through the undergraduate catalog before I even got to campus, writing out my 4 year plan (literally semester by semester, course by course) and setting goals targeted towards graduate school when I hadn’t even turned 18 yet. Then there were the goals I set for my track and field career, in addition to that.

A lot of us realize as we are wading the storm that is freshman year that it’s a year that may not turn out as planned. We all go in with high expectations and many times get hit with a reality check like “Hey, just a heads up, turns out you are still a teenager and you are now competing with 23-24 year old grown adults. It’s gonna take a second for you to finish growing, adjust to your training, and adjust to being on your own for the first time, too. Oh yeah, and try not to fail any classes in the process or you’re gonna make this a lot harder on yourself.”

“Oh yeah, try not to get injured, either.”

“Oh yeah, you also might not get into the graduate school you planned on.”

“Oh yeah, you also might not land the job you thought you would the second you graduate.”

“Oh yeah, your car also might stop working and you’ll have to walk everywhere or bum rides.”

“Oh yeah, there’s also gonna be some unexpected and unplanned life stuff that has nothing to do with school or sports or your job that you’ll have to figure out how to manage, too.”

If you’re like me, you might be using a lot of white out in your planner, drawing a lot of arrows to figure things out later, or going into your saved word doc of your 4 year plan to make edits on a regular basis.

SIDE NOTE: If anyone out there legit (yes this is the second use of that word in one blog, back off) still has their 4 year plan, is currently writing one because they are just now entering college, or BETTER YET has a 10 (or 20?) year plan, I would love to see it. Send it!

The reality is that we NEED plans. We need to have an idea of where it is we want to go so we can start trying to get there. Otherwise we stay complacent or confused or out of touch with our own selves and our passions. However, we need to make those plans and get after them while also keeping ourselves open and our frequencies high so that we are mindful and aware of other opportunities or pathways that present themselves for us to take.

It requires a bit of radical acceptance to trust the Universe when we get seriously derailed or thrown off of our course. You can either sit there and dwell on it, or you can say “okay” and get back on track; or find a new track; or make a new track.

Sometimes the Universe (or whatever/whoever you would like to refer to your higher power as) has other plans for us. Until we accept that and keep moving forward, you might feel like you’re up against a wall for a while. But the choice is yours, as always.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

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