I was watching the movie Up in the Air two nights ago and this statement really rung a bell for me:
When I was 16 I thought by 23 I’d be married, maybe have a kid. Corner office by day, entertaining at night. I was supposed to be driving a Grand Cherokee by now.
I think it’s safe to say that at one stage in our lives we’ve all made a blue print of what we think our lives should look like. Whether it’s based on what we think we want, or what we think is right based on societal pressures, we’ve made some sort of plan.
Not so long ago mine looked something like this.
Be married by 25. Own a house by 26. Get a puppy by 27. Have kids by 28/29. Have investment properties by 32….
I am definitely getting further and further away from my ‘planned’ route… similarly to when I got lost on the bus last week.
Last Monday I was trying to get from the shopping centre where I was working to Konan Station. I had my route all planned out on google maps. Walk for 25 minutes, catch a train, transfer to the subway…. Wait, TWENTY FIVE MINUTES?!
I had a sore knee and couldn’t even think about walking for 25 minutes! Surely I could get back to the train station by bus, after all that’s how I got to the shopping centre.
After a quick ‘sumimasen’ followed by my usual hand gestures and Janglish trying to ask the security guard where the bus stop was I headed off on my trip home. One wrong move and my plan was completely changed. I got on the wrong bus.
I watched the blue marker on google maps continue to get further and further away from my planned route.
I was scared, scared that I wouldn’t find my way back on track. I was nervous that because I didn’t follow my plan it wouldn’t work out in the end and I’d be lost. I was upset, why didn’t my original plan work out?
When I first realised my ‘life plan’ wasn’t going to come into fruition, I went through the same emotions as on this bus trip. I was scared, nervous and upset.
But now I realise that although letting go of my life plan was one of the hardest things to do, it was also one of the bravest and most exhilarating things I’ve done!
Why do so many of us put time limits on everything? Why do we think that to be successful we have to meet certain milestones by a certain stage in our life?
I don’t know why we feel this way, but I do know that it’s all in our head. No one else will judge you if you don’t go through the life stages in the ‘traditional’ running order, or timeframe. In fact, people admire you for having the courage to do what you want to do, rather than what you think is expected of you.
On the bus I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I had no internet to re route, no idea where I was and knew nothing about this area. But, eating most, ok all, of my chocolate bread, I stayed calm and patient, waiting it out. Surely another door would open soon and I’d have another route to choose. And sure enough, about half an hour later I arrived at Ichinomiya, another station which connects directly to Nagoya.
Instead of having, and trying to follow, a rigid life plan, take chances and choose your adventures day by day. Make your future up as you go along rather than making a plan years in advance. You change every day, so your original plan might not suit you next year or even next week!