Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Take your 5-Year Plan And...

You can try to control your life, and plan it out as meticulously as you do a Power Point presentation, or you can simply let life present itself to you, and you make the decisions as they come.
I ran across those words this morning, and it struck me that we're conditioned to believe that planning is better, in spite of the fact that plans inevitably go awry, and Plan A becomes Plan B becomes Plan C. Result? We feel like we failed because life steered us away from Plan A.

I've never been one for 5-year plans. I sometimes make 2-year plans, but even those end up being rearranged quite a bit. Two years ago, I thought I'd have a lot more freelance work coming my way, by now, than I actually do. My two-year plan said that if I wasn't making a good salary by now, I'd go back to a "regular" job. According to that plan, I have failed. But it doesn't make any sense at all to throw in the towel. I've learned a lot, and am still learning. I'm more hire-able than I was, in fields I'm interested in. I'm a better artist, a better programmer, and (I think) a better friend than I was. I know more people. I've seen and done more. My bank account is still in the black.

How, by any definition, can that be considered failure? If anything, it is the plan that failed.

Goals are helpful. Plans, not so much. I have goals to learn ActionScript, enjoy life, not go broke, and most recently, learn to play the cello. Two years ago, I'd have said that ActionScript would be a waste of time, because people don't like plugins and Flash isn't search-engine friendly. I hadn't even imagined that I'd want to play the cello, nor that I could live comfortably on less than $20,000 a year.

Everything changes.

What's around the corner? Who knows! Do I want to pour time and energy into plans that no longer apply, when circumstances change? Absolutely not. I'd much rather just make my decisions as they come, with a rational long-term view in mind. Goals like don't go broke, keep learning, get to know people - those will help in any situation. Today, I'll solve today's problems, and make today's decisions.

Sufficient unto today is the evil thereof.