This week I've been thinking about a quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower ... "Plans are nothing, but planning is everything."
In many ways, this quote captures the essence of Life Design. But what does it mean?
There's another Eisenhower quote that might shed some light on things ... "No plan ever survives contact with the enemy."
Here's the thing. When it comes to designing your life, your plans will never work out the way you think. There are too many unknown and unknowable variables. On top of that, every variable is ever-changing, including you.
Your values change. Your goals change. Your perspective changes.
Everything changes, so your plan must also change.
But Mike, if my plans are definitely going to change, then why bother planning in the first place?
That, my friend, is an excellent question.
There is value in the planning process itself. The act of planning is akin to imagining an alternate future. A plan is a prediction for how certain events will occur.
A good plan helps you to think about what could go wrong and what could go right. A good plan helps you to think about what you might do when thing go the way they go.
Planning is a creative process. People who spend time thinking about many possible futures become more creative. Good planning helps develop resiliency. Remember those fire drills you used to do as a kid in school? As silly as they sometimes felt, there was solid reasoning behind them.
Here's where most people go wrong when it comes to planning their life...
They only make one plan.
This defeats the purpose.
When you only imagine one possible future, it becomes your reality. When your imagined reality comes into contact with actual reality, you may not be ready.
Make many plans. Design many alternate futures. Pick different variables and constraints for each plan. For example, let one plan be the future you might have if you stay the course. Let one plan be the future you might have if you could no longer do whatever it is you're currently doing. Allow one plan to be what you'd do if you had zero constraints. (NOTE: If you want to learn more about how to do an Odessey Plan, check out the book, Designing Your Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.)
Again, the plan isn't the point. Planning is the point.
Now, what's your plan?