So Your Plan Failed. Now What?
Good Evening, welcome to day 10 of my self commitment to write for 15 minutes each day.
I am currently tucked upstairs in my bedroom listening to Brunch Cafe Radio on Pandora. The first song is, “Always Remember Us This Way”, from A Star Is Born. Cue the emotions.
This was the first day where my morning routine and day job interfered with my writing commitment. This is the quest, right? The many parts of us that all need different things being pulled in many directions. How do we continue to honor that ideal self? How do we stick to the plan we have for our lives? Well that’s the kicker my friends, sometimes we can’t.
I am a professional certified coach, if you want to be a basketball star I am supposed to help you stick to that plan and execute, right? Not necessarily. Sometimes the coaching relationship sparks something inside of you that you didn’t even know was there and it takes us down a whole new path. Sometimes we stick to the playbook, but most of the time it is about discovery and clarity. Clarity of values, clarity of passion and clarity of self. If that clarity leads you to still want to become a basketball star then to the court for free throws we go.
So what do I mean when I say sometimes we can’t stick to the plan? I mean precisely that. Sometimes the plan blows up in our face, we marry someone and we grow apart, we get an unexpected illness, we lose our job, we head out on a road trip only to find ourselves in love with Montana so we choose to stay awhile. Or we have a whole plan for our lives and we fall in love with a stranger or run into that person from college we haven’t spoken to in years and realize we’ve loved them since the day we met them, or we get recruited to London for an amazing job and we just can’t say no. So what happens to the plan? Where does it go? What is commitment then?
Per usual, I am going to tell you a story. When I left my hometown in 2008 I told myself I would never ever ever be back here. I was sure, totally and completely sure, that my path would only lead back here for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then one rainy day in Portland, Oregon I found myself craving home. I had an incredible job at Nike and an adorable apartment on a very cool street in the Northeast district of the city overlooking bars and music venues and tattoo parlors. But I knew there was more to my life than the way I was living and I felt in my bones that the only way to figure out what that life could be was to return home to where it all started. So I made a few phone calls, whispered to a few loved ones that I needed to come home and catch my breath for awhile, regroup. I would stay for six months, I said. I will consult and get some family and friend time and then be on my way to the next adventure.
I spent that first six months on my yoga mat reflecting, drinking coffee with my most trusted friends and sometimes cocktails if the mood called for it. I started frequenting this little restaurant in the hotel my mom and I stayed in for my 18th birthday. Through the generosity of one of my very best friends I got very involved with the community through his non profit organization; all the while searching for jobs and opportunities back in New York and Los Angeles. I was certain I would leave at any time when the right opportunity appeared. Days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months and last night I attended a political event for the legislative strategy we will be championing in the Indiana General Assembly come January. It was three years in August and in some ways it feels like it was just yesterday that I packed my bags in Oregon and commissioned my best friend Samantha to drive cross-country with me in my two seater convertible.
Except, it wasn’t yesterday. I am a version of myself I never even imagined. My dreams have changed so dramatically that I sometimes laugh out loud at what I used to think I wanted for my life. (I think it is important to note here that the Pandora station is now blasting Bob Seger). It took me a long time to accept that I went down this different path, that it didn’t look exactly like I imagined, that I had failed. Failed? Maybe. Sure I told myself I would never come home because that would be failure but I was 22 and my mom had just died and I had no idea how important community and family would become later in my life. I also had no idea that home is where I would actually find my voice and build an entire community organization from scratch.
Is that scary? Sure. The lack of attachment to a particular image or plan or life is terrifying. It is the opposite of what they tell you to do in all of those articles about success and love and marriage. But here is the kicker, when I returned home to rest I also went back to school to become a certified professional coach. It was in this training that my values, passions and “self” got clarified. I now had a roadmap and let me tell you, a roadmap is way better than a plan. Why? Because it shows you a bit about where you are going but it gives you room to take a different route. It leans on a destination but it doesn’t really care how you get there. What? That’s crazy, you whisper to yourself as you look at your calendar that is full of commitments and plans.
It is crazy. It is wild. I dare you to try it. I have found that my roadmap is quite reliable. It has signs for when I am driving in the wrong direction, it puts up roadblocks when it wants me to take a different road and it leaves a lot of room for stops on top of the hill to catch the view. I am less afraid with this roadmap because I can trust that eventually I will get where I want to go. And where is it that I want to go? Well, anywhere that has art and culture, a committed and loving husband, a puppy and his other furry friends, a book deal, a creative company, some speaking engagements, a house with a barn, laughter, trust, children, family, friends, flowers and a warm cup of tea.
And guess what? I already have a lot of those things, right here at home back where it all began. Can you imagine how much more exciting it would all be if we went to bed knowing that tomorrow could look entirely different than today? That we might wake up and meet a stranger that will change our lives or have our kid teach us something new or run into our best friend at the local grocery just by coincidence? Serendipity they call it.
Today around 5pm my sister called to ask if I could watch my neice for an hour. With glee I accepted her request for help and waited patiently for little Mena to arrive. And let me tell you, in my 22 year old plans and dreams, this magic moment never would have been possible.
I am definitely enjoying this road trip we call life. I love building roadmaps and visioning and making lists, I am quite an expert. But I also love the flow of trusting the process and letting go of expectations. It is a bit freeing to go to bed and know that tomorrow might be entirely different than today.
Here’s to finding 15 minutes for ourselves even on our busiest of days, and to roadmaps; may the lead us beyond where we dream of going.