What do you do when life takes you somewhere you never planned?
November 21, 2012, 6:03 am
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ImageI’ve always been one to romanticize life, perhaps a little too much. I love to encourage people to dream big and drop every confinement in order to pursue their dreams.  I love to dream too, to make a skeleton of a plan then paint life onto it with a healthy dose of spontaneity. Dreams are the color and music of a life well lived. I’ve always seen life as holding unlimited potential for us to tap into and get lost in. A life with no ambitions is colorless and boring. That said, dreams don’t always come true. Life happens and sometimes life itself doesn’t allow our grand plans to play out as we intended.  A common phenomenon I’ve been discovering as I gain years is the fact that people rarely end up where they expected. This leads to an important question:

What do you when life takes you somewhere you never planned?

In the world of management this is where contingency planning comes into place. defines a contingency plan as “a course of action to be followed if a preferred plan fails or an existing situation changes.” In other words you’ll have to learn to roll with the punches.  When we end up somewhere we never planned, good or bad, we must reflect and work with what we’ve been given.

Three years ago I was on a one way road to becoming Biblical counselor.  That was my dream, rooted in my value system and fueled by the thing that means the world to me; seeing lives changed.  I remember being speechless when my mom called with the news that I was excepted to my university of choice.  I had no doubts about my plan, my dream.

Today I am a business student at a local community college. My values haven’t changed but I didn’t go to school for counseling. The human experience I place most worth on is still the freedom of overcoming sin and the oppression it carries.  My course, though, is not at all what I planned.

Someday each of us will wake up and ask “How did I get here?” It is just part of the journey and we must have a framework in place in order to succeed in spite of the things we never expected. The first and most important step in your contingency plan is to stay true to your values.  If your values are swayed by your circumstances they are about as worthless as a car without an engine…or wheels. Your values are the framework and fuel to your journey. With solid values, based on truth, every circumstance is an intriguing chapter of a grand journey. Without those values the journey it nothing more than random, meaningless chapters from journeys that don’t belong to you.  Spontaneity driven by a solid framework is fresh, it is beautiful but there is no beauty in a story without direction.

Secondly, it is crucial to continuously reassess your goals and plan a course of action from where you are now. You need to recognize a re-route along the journey. If you plotted out a five year plan and somehow abandoned it at year three, you must not abandon the process of setting goals all together.  Although a previous plan may have been made obsolete by circumstances your duty to set a course of action isn’t dismissed. This just means you get to switch it up a little. Reassess the situation and your opportunities then plot out a general course of action that reflects the things that are valuable to you.  Make your present situation point A and the manifestation of your passions point B, then set objectives along the way.  Pursue the thing that gives your life rhythm, the thing you love. Have some fun with it.

And finally, embrace the journey. This takes me back to my introduction. This life gets shorter with every breath you take. What you accomplish and what you don’t is entirely up to you. It is easy to blame defeat on your circumstances but that gets you nowhere.  If you abandon your values and direction you are the only one to blame. In order to pursue the infinite potential that this life allows we must learn to love the journey. Every moment along the route to our destination needs to become a destination in itself, something to celebrate. Eventually we find need to celebrate the simple fact that we are here and we have the opportunity to create a journey. One that tells a story exponentially greater than the sum of moments along the route.

Today is as good a day as any to relax, take a step back and reflect on where the journey has brought you.  Today is a day to celebrate the successes and put defeat behind you while you plot your objectives on the way to your next destination.

Here’s to the journey.