The Importance of Having a Plan

Doing nothing is also a choice.

I spent many years, several decades actually, just spinning my wheels and getting absolutely nowhere. I didn’t really expect I’d ever have it better than I did at the time. Deep down I thought I didn’t deserve it.

I tended to get into relationships with men who reinforced my inertia. They were either extremely content with the status quo, completely devoid of ambition, or they had such low self-esteem or such pessimism that they couldn’t look beyond their current survival struggles. It was like living in quicksand. The longer I marinated in it, the more hopeless I felt, until I could barely work up the energy to try to improve my life anymore. There didn’t seem to be much point.

But a little voice inside me was never quite willing to give up on my hopes and dreams. A few times I really did try to formulate a plan that I felt really good about, but the men in my life didn’t buy into my ideas, and certainly offered none of their own. Or worse yet was the one who pretended to buy in, but then sabotaged my progress every chance he got.

I kept being dragged deeper into the quicksand by relationships and obligations and emergencies and hopelessness and bills, and I couldn’t see a viable way out of it. I had all but resigned myself to just letting the mud close over me to sink into oblivion. But that persistent little voice kept telling me that this was wrong.

I’d like to say that a plan got me out of the quicksand, but it wasn’t that easy. I basically just jumped and hoped that there would be something to grab ahold of at the end of my trajectory. (Unless you call moving to the other side of the country where you’ve never been and know nobody an actual plan.) That jump could have ended in disaster, but for once luck was on my side.

So yes, I landed in high cotton, as they say in the South, but I knew that luck comes and goes, and I couldn’t just status quo my way through the rest of my life if I wanted things to remain this good. I needed to have a plan. No more sinking into the quicksand that was my life. I need a map. I needed a destination. I needed a compass point.

And let me take a moment to make it perfectly clear that I’m not talking about some goal to become rich or famous. Money doesn’t equate to happiness. Fame is a fleeting illusion.

No. It’s much more important to figure out what will give you satisfaction in life, and then determine a way to get to that place. And no two people will ever have the exact same goals, but it’s really important to know what you want before you get into a relationship, and have an open and honest discussion about that, so that you can make sure your goals are compatible (and also that the other person’s exist in the first place).

So how do you plan to reach your goals? Not by sitting there and wallowing in self pity. If you want to live in another place, how will you make that happen? Do your homework. Research the cost of living and the job market in that area. Apply for jobs. If you want to change your career, how do you do that? Do you need more education or training? Can you seek out a mentor? If you want to live a healthier life, how do you plan to make that happen? If you feel that the people around you are toxic, how do you plan to change your crowd? What do you want your life to look like after all your kids have grown up and left home?

I am so glad I’m now in a relationship where we’ve agreed on our goals. We’re both working steadily toward them, in tandem, and we adjust them as we go along, also in tandem. You can’t predict what the future holds, of course, but you can influence it by either doing something or doing absolutely nothing. Make no mistake: doing nothing is also a choice.

Once you have goals, you have purpose, and you have something to look forward to. And since life is, after all, the journey, it’s nice to be excited about that journey. It’s what gets me out of bed every morning.

I’ll now leave you with an amazing meme that I saw the other day. It says, “What if it turns out better than you could have imagined?”

To that I say, lucky me, it already has. Much better than I imagined, indeed. Life is what you make it, and it’s good.

An attitude of gratitude is what you need to get along. Read my book!


Author: The View from a Drawbridge

I have been a bridgetender since 2001, and gives me plenty of time to think and observe the world.

4 thoughts on “The Importance of Having a Plan”

  1. Life is what you make it if you’re lucky and life doesn’t give you insurmountable limitations. As you said, for once luck was on your side. Some of us keep planning and working while having to redefine those goals as life takes away one ability after another regardless of our right actions. Luck hasn’t been our sides. Doesn’t mean we stop trying, but when the goal posts keep getting moved further away some of us run out of time before we reach our goals. My original dreams have shrunk or disappeared. Now my goals consist of getting through a day without spilling, dropping, fainting, falling or forgetting and trying to adjust to my rapid loss of vision. It’s lucky I love a challenge and can recall moments of joy or I might be angrily depressed and give up. Thanks for that at least life. So if you ever have a bad day that has you cursing your luck, just think of me and you’ll remember how good your life has become. 🙂

    1. Your absolutely right, Lyn. Sometimes you’re dealt a bad hand. Rather than use you as some kind of bar I’ve been lucky enough to climb over, I’d rather spend the time hoping things improve for you, and being grateful that you have been strong enough to cope thus far. When I wrote this, I was thinking of the people who THINK they’re in your situation, but they really aren’t. It’s just that they’ve given up or haven’t tried. But I does pay to remember that life is not a one size fits all situation, so thank you for that. I just get frustrated by those people who don’t even try and then blame the rest of the world for it. That is definitely not your situation. Hugs.

  2. Those people need to walk awhile in my shoes and then realize that even I’m grateful to still have things (like your blog) to look forward to. Shall I send them my shoes? Things can always be worse so I make the most of what I have now. My attitude’s the only real control I have so I choose to find humor in life’s challenges and laugh through the tears. And everyday, as I make plans, life laughs back at me. It’s a friendly competition at this point. When life eventually gives up, I’m hoping what comes next turns out better than I could’ve imagined. 🙂 I’m glad you realized your dreams while still healthy enough to enjoy and share them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: