We all know the line, “The best laid [plans] of mice and men often go awry.” No truer statement could be said about making life plans, both professional and personal. As a child, I was sure I would grow up to be a doctor. As an adult, I was sure I would be a millionaire by the age of 35. Neither came to pass, but because I’ve been flexible, I’ve allowed my life to form in a way that I could have never planned and it’s been great.
Young overachievers are often taught to make plans for their education and their careers. I began writing out my goals for my life when I was about 13 and have never stopped. In fact, I have my goals for the first half of this year on the wall by my desk now. It is a great daily reminder and it keeps me focused, however, I have learned not to be rigid in seeking to fulfill those goals. The main reason is because what’s on that paper cannot take into account this thing we call life.
One of my sister-friends is equally driven and similarly has a 5-year and 10-year plan. She is an entrepreneur who started a floral business about three years ago. She developed a business plan for the first five and then, 10 years. She also developed a plan for her personal life, which included getting married. When she created both, they seemed reasonable and doable. She’d enjoyed success as a florist on the side while she worked in corporate America, and she’d been in a long-term relationship that was headed toward marriage.
Then, life happened. Mid-way through her first year of business, one of her main investors dropped out leaving her cash strapped. She struggled to find new capital to run the business and never fully recouped the intended capital she’d lost. Still, she kept going and the business was decent. Her floral shop is located in lower Manhattan and when Hurricane Irene came she was affected, but not devastatingly so. Hurricane Sandy was a completely different story—it put her out of business for over a month.
Moreover, the strain on her business started to take a toll on her relationship, which ended in January. I certainly don’t believe in giving up, but it was clear that an adjustment needed to be made. Instead of looking at her five-year plan as a failure, it was time that she made a new one. The circumstances that were beyond her control prevented her from achieving the plan she had set so it was definitely time to make a new one based on the cards she’d been dealt.
It’s easier said than done when you’ve encountered difficulties that leave you feeling defeated. But, the best thing about life is that you can always start over, make new plans and keep going. I encouraged her to do it and she has begun to do so. She is closing down her business by liquidating the assets and she has decided to do private floral services for catering companies and event planners, which she can do from her home or a small, lower-rent office. And, I told her that she should start dating again.
There comes a point when you have to take an honest look at your plans and determine whether it’s working or not. If you’re like my sister-friend, and it’s not, then it might be time for you scrap that plan and start over again. By all means, whatever you do, just keep going.
Wishing you LOVE & CEASLESS JOY!
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Nathan’s book INSPIRATION: Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World is available now.