Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Stick to the Plan...

What the hell is a "plan" anyway? What we view it as in today's culture makes it either a very positive or a very negative thing. If you stick to the plan and complete it, then it's a great success. If you don't stick to the plan, then you have failed to execute this masterful plan that you have mapped out for yourself, deeming yourself incompetent. It's not necessarily always this way, but I think that's how people often view the directions a plan can take.

However, I think there are two sides to each of those previously mentioned two sides, and they are as follows:

The first side, the one where you stuck to the plan and executed it, accomplishing a goal. On the surface, this seemingly is completely a good thing. You were determined enough to execute something you believed beneficial to yourself(not counting heist/murder schemes) and the fact that you did it says a lot about your ability to follow through. While this is mostly true, what expense did accomplishing this task cost you? 

Let's take an example directly from my job. A student graduating high school is ready to go to college, say into Nursing, and after graduation plan on becoming a nurse. There is nothing wrong with becoming a nurse whatsoever, however I do have a problem with the plan. That is at least 4 years of your life, some of the more important years of a person's like in my opinion, and if you do accomplish this, what did you ignore along the way. What if the student took a psychology class freshman year and really liked it, considered maybe switching, but chose not to because of fear of venturing from their plan? What if that student would have thrived more in that major? They may never know because they stuck to their plan.

And now the other side, the one where you failed to achieve the goal in your plan. Why exactly is that so bad? This goes hand in hand with the first one, so I won't give another example, but say someone bails on their plan because they discovered something that felt better than what they were going for in their plan? Is that a failure? Or rather should they be commended for having the courage to stray from their original, perhaps ambitious goal, to chase what it is that they really want? 

So now the two sides to having a plan become four, and suddenly it's not so black and white. The gray area, in fact, suddenly becomes really appealing, like maybe your favorite color(I like cerulean). 

This blog stems from a combination of conversations I have had in the past week. The first was with my grandpa, who with my grandma was making a very pleasant visit with me and as always, asked what it was that I was doing. I listed off 5 years of ambitious plans that would put me on a pretty admirable track and when I finished, they both were so excited to hear these plans. But before their eyes got too big, I assured them that it was a loose outline of what I could do. Because my college career followed many twists and turns, facing many different forks in the road, leading me to not leave with a degree in Pharmacy like I started but rather one in Communication. Can you think of two more different majors? But those four years taught me something: to never stick by a plan because it's a "plan." So when their eyes got big at my plan, I assured them that things could change in 6 months if I met a girl and fell in love with her. Or maybe when I get to Spain I start working in a restaurant and realize a passion for cooking and decide to start cooking there. Or I might get in the Peace Corps and realize that is my life's calling. Who knows? I sure as hell don't. So to pretend that those 5 years will go exactly as I say is beyond foolish, and detrimental to me because I may miss out on something really spectacular.

The second conversation comes from a case worker who has been working in my school a lot recently. This one has less to do with a plan but more how to handle one. Upon hearing of my lack of spirituality, which she was open to, made me promise to be open to spirituality if the feeling were to strike me. This was not news to me, I am wide open to it, but she reiterated what I told my grandpa, to be open to changes when they come. Where I am at not, in terms of my spirituality, is very far from being religious. I don't dislike religion or anything like, but where I am at now is a place completely devoid of it. I am currently a pretty staunch pragmatist, but the cool thing about that is being pragmatic about the nature of humans. We tend to change on a whim, believe it or not. So if I somehow survive an incredible near death experience or lose someone very close to me, I know it's very possible I may seek spiritual comfort. And because of the sermon I am currently preaching(intended), I will be open to the change if it feels right.

So, to conclude, I don't want you to place such high value on a "plan." I think it's good to have one, to give yourself some sense of direction, because aimless awaiting of some serendipitous discovery usually doesn't pan out. But don't think you're a failure for having failed to meet a plan. In that case, you have only failed an idea. But if you complete the plan, you may have failed yourself. That is, making yourself happy. And really, there are few things more important than that.

Oh yeah, if you haven't made the connection to the picture, don't feel pressure to make up your mind, especially in regards to your future. Give yourself a loose idea, but creating pressure on myself to choose between Pharmacy and Communication would have likely made things much more difficult. Instead, I did what felt right when the feeling struck me. Then again, I may be unique in not feeling this pressure, but I think everyone can, if they just try it.

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