Lisa Hess discusses the growth that can come when our plans don't work out the way we'd intended.
Every plan seems great at the outset. Excited by the possibilities, we jump in. If all goes well, we’re treated to a lovely honeymoon period during which we have the enthusiasm of a scientist who has proven her hypothesis—or so I imagine, as I’ve never embodied any scientific role (but I have watched a lot of Lessons in Chemistry lately).
Then, we hit the wall. Sometimes it’s a gentle tap, a miscalculation. Or, we get busy, and the day is over before we make good on the promises we made to ourselves. Or maybe those promises slip our minds and, when we remember them, we correct course and get back on track.
Other times, we run into the wall full force or, perhaps, repeatedly, missing our target over and over and reeling from the impact.
The plan itself, contrary to popular belief, is not the important part. The important part comes when we hit the wall. Do we remain stunned and discombobulated? Limp away and make excuses? Pick up the pieces, put them back into something—anything—resembling the original plan (or a revised version) and move forward?
So often, when we change plans, adapt them, or revamp them, a little (or big) piece of us considers that a failure. We failed to stick to the plan, to follow through, to make good on our promise to ourselves. Part of that assessment (the follow-through part) may be true, but the first part (the failure part) is not. Every time we return to the plan, whether we pick up from where we left off or move on in a different direction, we are succeeding.
Not only that, we are winning. Life is full of plans and obstacles and, while the latter is inevitable, the former is a mark of optimism. We believe we can change, succeed, press forward, and doing so despite the obstacles (or because of them) is a win, not only for the plan, but for hope, joy, growth, and life.
Or maybe even organization.
So keep making those plans, and changing them, adapting them, and even abandoning them when what looks good on paper doesn’t work in the real world. A plan is a promise to oneself to dare to change, and every life needs a little daring in it. And every time we make a plan, follow a plan, or revise a plan, we grow a little bit.
And isn't that the whole point of the process?
Copyright 2023 Lisa Hess
About the Author
Transplanted Jersey girl Lisa Lawmaster Hess is the author of a blog compilation, three novels, and three non-fiction books, including the award-winning Know Thyself: The Imperfectionist’s Guide to Sorting Your Stuff. A retired elementary school counselor, Lisa is an adjunct professor of psychology at York College of Pennsylvania. She blogs at The Porch Swing Chronicles, Organizing by STYLE, and here at Catholicmom.com. Read all articles by Lisa Hess.