We’re conditioned to make plans and set goals. There’s an expectation on each of us, on some level, to establish a direction for our personal and professional lives and then drive toward it. It’s something I enjoy and believe in passionately. The only way to get where we want to go in life is to have a clear picture of our destination. But what happens when we encounter a washed out bridge or detour along the way?
How many times have you caught yourself saying, “This wasn’t part of the plan?”
When I was in my twenties, I had a clear vision for what life at forty would look like. My career would have taken off, I would love my work, and I would be financially comfortable. I would be married to my college sweetheart, and we would live with our kids in the house we built when we were young. There would be stocks and mutual funds and a 401K, and our future would be set. By forty, we would have hit our stride. At twenty, we were already on our way.
By the time I did hit forty, I was divorced and newly remarried. The company I worked for and had given my all to had crashed, I had been laid off, and was now on the unpredictable path of an entrepreneur. I had sold my home in the divorce, the one I built in my early twenties, and was now renting a home with my new spouse. We eventually spent nine months living in my in-law’s basement, and were figuring out how to navigate a new relationship and blended-family parenting. The divorce combined with launching an agency crashed my savings — the stocks and mutual funds and 401K were gone.
There was a point somewhere in here where I recall looking around and thinking, “This wasn’t my plan.” I was starting all over again from zero.
But here’s the thing about starting from zero. You get to do it all over again on your terms, and this time you’re a lot smarter and more experienced. The struggles, and all the things happening that were not part of “the plan” make you stronger. For me personally, what initially looked like rock bottom in my life ended up being the launchpad for starting a successful agency, building a brand new relationship with my amazing wife, and moving our family into a home of our own. We’re rebuilding financially, and the possibilities in front of us now are limitless. Standing where I do today, I wouldn’t trade this adventure for anything. I know today that there’s nothing big enough to hold me down.
I’ve talked in the past about the importance of enjoying the journey. Being transparent, as I was walking out this journey, there were moments when I hated the path I was on. The rocky parts, the climbing, the thorns, and the storms — this wasn’t fair. There were times I wanted to stop and give up. At a few points on this journey, I thought I was the only one battling something, and that everyone else had it figured out. Looking around, it’s easy to believe that you’re the only one struggling.
We’re all in one fight or another, facing giants and challenges that test us. If you’re not in one now, you will be. The moment will come when you say to yourself, “This wasn’t part of the plan.” When that happens, and it will, remember this. We’re constantly rewriting the scripts of our lives. We’re living in a rough draft, and we’ll keep having to modify our scripts until the end. Every time “the plan” changes, it’s merely a rewrite of your script.
Not getting stuck when our plan changes. Be flexible, adaptable, responsive. When the plan changes, bend with it. Hang in there, battle through the transitions, and you’ll come out the other side stronger.
Originally published at https://depthnotwidth.com on March 26, 2019.