“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
~ Benjamin Franklin.
We’ve all heard this quote at some point in our lives, whether from a family member, teacher or random passer-by. It hasn’t been remembered the last 300 years for no reason and far be it for me to disagree with Benjamin Franklin but there are some definite flaws in this statement.
In some cases, planning can be your greatest asset. Planning your expenses so you don’t blow your week’s budget on organic, vegan smoothies. Planning your morning so you make it to work on time. Planning your uni timetable to avoid 9 am lectures on Monday mornings. All of this is great (and all of this I failed to do at one time or another) but when it comes to plans for your life, it’s not so straight forward.
From as young as I can remember, I’ve always been asked, “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, or some variation thereof. No one actually expects a five-year-old to be making career decisions but none the less the seed is planted. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” transforms from a childish game to an impossible nightmare by the time you reach adulthood.
Studying something like business because you think it’ll give you better job prospects than an arts degree may seem like a good plan. Do the degree that’ll get you the job and once you have the job you can focus on your other interests on the side. It’s the responsible thing to do. The thing is, responsible can often mean safe and you can’t achieve your dreams without taking any risks.
I did the business degree. I did the responsible thing and I had it all planned out. Yet still, I failed. I tried again with midwifery and I was certain it was the perfect fit for me. Yet lo and behold, I was wrong, again.
It is possible I’ve deluded myself into thinking this is a common problem and that nothing ever goes to plan so I can feel better about my own indecisiveness but either way, I stand by my opinion.
In my experience, plans only work when you know all the variables. You know that if you get stuck in an endless spiral at your local bookstore and blow away all your money you won’t be able to make your car payments (yes, I’ve done that too). You don’t know, however, that the degree you choose at uni will actually get you a job at the end of three years or if you’ll even still want that job at the end of three years. There are too many variables. The most challenging one being ourselves.
We are all constantly changing. Every one of our experiences impacts us so that however big or small we never wake up the same person that we were the day before. I’m no longer the girl who thought she’d suit a business career. Nor the girl who couldn’t imagine herself as anything other than a midwife. So, despite all my planning, none of it stuck.
That’s not to say thinking about the future isn’t important, but the future has so many infinite possibilities confining yourself to just one doesn’t make sense to me. I believe in dreaming and dreaming big, risking failure and failing again, changing plans over and over until you find what you love.
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet keep looking. Don’t settle.”
~ Steve Jobs.
And so, I will retain to do what I love, wherever it may lead me, planning be damned.