Planning to change plans

 © Jenn Shallvey

© Jenn Shallvey

Plans, dreams, intentions and desires inspire us to go in new directions. The more we learn, the more we grow, the more we choose to step forward.  Sometimes though what we plan to do takes longer than we want. Sometimes what we want does not eventually end up satisfying us or being what we imagined.

What then?

Do we start all over? Give up? Persevere anyway?  Ignore the outcome and stick to the plan? So many different responses are possible.  Mostly though when what we think ‘should’ happen doesn’t happen we get a bit frustrated. Ok maybe even angry and annoyed.  

Why? Because what we do is judge ourselves for not getting something right or doing something the way we think it should be.  We create our own expectations or adapt to expectations of others and then stand in self evaluation.  We step in as self critic and self judge.

What if you just stopped and said this:

You are perfect exactly as you are. Where you are at in your life is perfect exactly as it is right now.

If it seems not then at some level you are judging your place as if it were not right.

So what if you DO accept where you are as exactly perfect?  There is no limitation of time only that imposed by you. You are far more magnificent and powerful in this way than you even begin to consider.  

Consider another two aspects.

Look up and forward. No need to look back or down.  

When we look up we see the vastness of the sky whether night or day. The image is associated with unlimited potential and possibility. It is also unknown even though you know it is there.   You can see the sun, moon, planets and stars.  They light up your world do they not?  So be inspired by the light in the world. Let this light inspire you to find the light within you and others.  When you can see inside what you admire outside it will enable you to go so much farther in this world.  As you see your own light and can imagine this then also see yourself as a person bringing light to what you do.

In terms of not looking back…

Don’t look back as this simply brings you into a place that no longer exists. There is no point. What is done is finished,  complete. Whatever you did or whatever happened is gone. All you can do is be the person you are right now in this moment. This is not about mindfulness it is simply practical. So in this exact moment you are reading this blog post.  You are breathing. You blood is flowing. Your cells are living.  You are living.  So much is happening in this exact moment that you are not aware of.  Pay attention. Notice. Notice this in a way that you have not done so before.  I am not devoid of the realities of life. This suggestion is here as a reminder. That is it. So notice.

So if in this moment you are focused on the present.  You may wonder then what do you do about the planning and other processes that are about the future.

This may challenge you

Your plans are created now in this moment based on where you are at now. They are essentially obsolete in the next moment.  Unless you feel exactly the same way that next moment and the world stays the same your plans are now less relevant.  

So for example you write, articulate and express your plan. You file it away. Then you go about your day to day. You come back to the plan. You are now different. Do you still want exactly what you said before? Not likely exactly the same.  But I do no not tell you to throw the plan. Instead be aware and present to it as you evolve, change and grow. Tweak and adjust. Unless you have an epiphany or a radical shift in a short moment then the plan will always be 80% appropriate as a guide. Allow that extra 20% as a way to adjust course.

The sailor knows

This process is much like a sailor on a boat sailing the ocean. The sailor sets course for a new destination.  With this purpose in mind, say to sail from one island to another, the boat makes it’s way. Then as the boat sails it is up to the sailor to do the best possible to deal with the weather and other elements. Despite excellent technology, the sailor of the boat is not able to predict the all weather patterns that will affect what happens. The sailor does not plan to change course but needs to if something happens.   

As an example suppose a storm comes up.  Does the sailor stay on course and go directly through the storm? No of course not. A wise sailor will sail around the storm as much as possible. This adjustment may mean a new course and a new time but the sailor is still on target.  Now what if this sailor goes along and changes course with the full intention of still sailing to the other island but comes across a different island that was not on his map? What then?

Choice in change

Well here is where the power of choice balanced with intuition comes into the equation.  This sailor did not know consciously that the course would come to this island. But the sailor is now there and needs to assess this situation.  There are many questions to ask.  This is a different island than the one planned.   Is there perhaps something to do at this island? Perhaps the original island simply served to motivate the sailor to go out on the boat and in the ocean.  Maybe this island is a detour and distraction from the original plan. Does the sailor acknowledge this and keep going fixed on and focused on this course? This is for the sailor to know. Only the sailor knows at the time of arrival.

Intuition in change

How will the sailor know? Intuition and internal awareness combined with personal wisdom will inform. We think it will be our mind and our rigid adherence to our plan. If we followed only this then the sailor would have sailed into the storm.  Maybe the island is a safe refuge that sustenance on a journey that originally was planned to be much shorter. With the other island arising it allows time to reenergise and replenish supplies, and self before continuing on the journey. Without this apparent unexpected detour maybe the sailor would not make the destination.

So consider the following:

  • The sailor thinks he/she knows where he/she is going. The sailor thinks up a plan and makes it work.  All good sailors will have mapped their course.
  • The sailor adjusts and adapts along the journey using skills and awareness in that moment. If not paying attention to the elements whilst sailing, the sailor would unknowingly sail into the storm. So the sailor uses instruments and readings to help navigate. This is what intuition is like is it not?
  • Then the other island. Well this is an opportunity to choose a response. The great thing here is that the sailor can either be pleased to find the new island or not be happy about it. It is a choice. You can see there are ways to handle detours in our life and work. Acceptance is the easiest route and least painful and frustrating.  The sailor’s choice of action is also within a realm of control. The irony is that in this situation the sailor appears to have no control - of the elements that is and the need to detour - but there is control over how to deal with the situation and respond.  To react and get upset about the situation would mean perhaps still being on the boat in the middle of the ocean in the aftermath of a storm.
  • In the back of the mind, and always in the sailor’s thoughts, is the plan to get to the original island. The original island journey is not abandoned. The sailor never gives up on getting to the island.  This again is a choice.
  • The new island may actually create a distraction. This distraction may then lead to a longer stay than needed - even delaying or never going to the original island.
  • Too distracted and the sailor forgets the purpose for planning to visit the original island.  So it does help to have ways to remember. The sailor needs to come up with personal ones that work-internal and external.  For example maybe something as simple as naming the boat after the destination island or marking the sails with relevant images or words.  
  • The creation of external reminders are powerful because not only do they remind the sailor but they also remind others of this plan. The public expression is useful to draw others for support.  This openness lets others know the sailor’s plans. The connection allows relationships to form.   So this journey to the other island becomes far more than just a task but an experience too.

There are so many aspects to making a plan, adjusting and staying on track.   It is ultimately within your power and control. You have the choice of what you do, where you go and how. You also have the choice of response to what comes up along the way. The world is filled with examples of people who made a difference in their life and work. Most of these stories are equally filled with challenges, diversions and unexpected turns.

So I invite you to pause now and reflect on your own plans. Where are you heading in your life and work? What is the equivalent of your dream island and journey to it?  How are you going at adjusting and enjoying the journey to this destination?