The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another, and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.
– J.M. Barrie, novelist and playwright (1860-1937)
How many people really do plan their lives, lay out the objectives and goals they hope to achieve? That would have to be in a meaningful and realistic way, as some people plan to make their first million by age 30 but few make it. Most of those people are divorced by age 30 instead.
Most people I have met have a vague idea of what they would like their lives to be like a few decades down the road. With divorce being so common today and security in jobs more a dream of the past than a reality of the present, surely most plans will go astray somewhere.
Not necessarily. Life plans can go astray the way we have to make detours around the roads we planned to take on a long trip because of construction. The destination or life goals can remain in place even if we have to take different routes to get there than we planned.
I planned what I wanted to be, the kind of person I wanted to be and position I wanted to be in life at my present age, when I was 15. I had no idea how to get there, took a variety of interesting detours along the way–some delightful, some petrifying.
Whether I reached the goals I had for myself may be less important that the fact that I explored many avenues, especially paths I didn’t think I was suited for, and made at least modest successes out of each. In taking those unplanned routes, I learned how to turn weaknesses into strengths as I had to accomplish tasks and objectives I had not previously prepared for.
I don’t want to set myself up as a role model. However, each young person needs to know that they should set life goals for themselves, that they may take diverse paths to reach them, but that the goals are worth having.
Life goals keep us from straying too far from our course, such as by seeking short term pleasures with drugs or other addictions, and such as taking liberties with the law when we find ourselves short of income and long on bills owing and finding ourselves in prison as a result. And such as destroying our marriage because we can’t cope with some of the unpleasantness of it. Or allowing ourselves to sink into depression or another state of (manageable) mental illness because we can’t cope with the problems of the day.
We need to have a clear idea of what we want from life and we need to keep heading in that direction, more or less. Expecting someone else to tell us what life is all about won’t get us to a destination or life goal. If we don’t set our own goals, we won’t be committed enough to stick to the course along the way.
Life is complicated if we look at all the little problems and diversions along the way. It’s much simpler if we understand that these are not very important over the long term, but our forging our way toward our goal is what matters. We are the architect of the person we will become.
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, striving to give some perspective to what life is about.
Learn more at http://billallin.com