How often do your plans fail?
For me it happens all the time. I’ve combated this by making more and more specifically tailored plans, by trying to reduce interference in the execution of plans, and even rejecting the idea of planning altogether. Yet it seemed that no matter what I thought, believed, or did, my plans were doomed to failure.
This is a big deal. Most likely if you’re reading this blog, you were brought up in a society that rewards the achievement of goals be they monetary, physical, emotional, or other. Or maybe it’s more insidious. Maybe you were raised and conditioned to believe that not only were goals rewarding, but they were fundamentally linked to your success as a person. So goals and achievement are not just icing on the cake – they are the cake.
Ergo, if you don’t achieve your goals you have failed as a person. Is there any worse feeling than that of total and utter irreversible failure? For me, this fear of failure and not achieving is one of the great motivators of my life. Any ability I have to plan, execute, and acquire results is itself the result of paralyzing fear for what it would mean to have the opposite.
What do you think about structure? Does it make you feel warm and fuzzy? Do you think it’s mandatory to stem the chaos of life? Do you think it’s stifling? Do you think people who don’t have it are undisciplined bums who are a leech on society? When you see a flowchart, does it make you suddenly very comfortable? I’d raise my hand on the last one. If there was a flowcharts anonymous, I’d be there.
The point I’m trying to make here is that while goal setting and planning are very abstract concepts, you have a very real emotional attachment to them. This emotion makes you forever locked in a cycle that has a sole goal to make your life better in some way. And make no mistakes, the stakes are very high. If you win and achieve what you want, then you get the ticker tape and champaigne, and if you lose then you retreat to a shell of a half-life, where the only thing you can hold in your mind is regret.
And the clock is ticking.
So what to do? That was a trick question, because there is nothing especially to do. You already do all that you can to win this particularly painful game. You already plan to the absolute best of your intelligence and predict with the best of your wisdom. Your ability to do is just fine, so rest easy you amazing results-generating machine. You may not know this yet, but what you are seeking for is an understanding, something to free you from this prison of cause and effect, deadlines, (real or imaginary) and results.
What you’re looking for is The Path.