As people go through life, seeking to find where to fit in, gaining experience and insight, often they end up in a place they didn’t necessarily intend to be. Some people lead highly structured and regimented lives and everything they do is part of their overall plan. Others, don’t fall into this category, they go with the flow. Most are somewhat of a hybrid between the two. There are always extremes to any spectrum and the norm is somewhere in the middle. For some reason, the extremes seem to be the basis for measure. Do I know what I want but am willing to move forward without structure? Then I am at the bottom of the spectrum. Do I have a plan for a plan? Then I am at the high end. What happens when you have a plan and the plan falls apart? What happens when you’d like to have a plan, but don’t even know where to begin?
Whether circumstances in your life inhibit your ability to develop a plan or something that you would have never imagined emerge derails your plan, how do you get to a place of contentment? A common problem faced by many is getting stuck, either before the start, or somewhere in the middle. There is quite a bit to learn from the two extremes.
The planners have a plan for a plan. They set their mark and aim for it. Nothing will detract from the mark. You may call them overachievers or go-getters, but what they are is focused. These people do not take their eye off the ball. If the ball moves, they shift to stay focused on the ball. The ball can go completely out of bounds, out of the court, down the block and roll into unimagined territory and their eye does not lose sight of the ball. The planners run after the ball, seize it, and keep it within their line of sight at all times. Why is this important? We are what we continually think about.
If you continually look to where you want to be and see every experience as a means to achieve your goals, your goals are always within line of sight. Planners seem to have this skill down. A junior high school student with aspirations to be an astronaut may seek knowledge about becoming an astronaut, attend space camp, and join networks to connect with other likeminded individuals. As the student enters high school, GPA and extra-curricular activities become predominant thoughts as these will enable the student to move closer to the ball. If a setback occurs along the way, the planner will come up with another plan to course correct. Let’s say the student didn’t get into a specific program in college or after college. Planners, continue pushing forward until the goal is realized, no matter how many set-backs along the way.
The other extreme of the spectrum, those that go with the flow, have equally admirable qualities. This group can be unstoppable because they have no preconceived thoughts that they cannot. They decide to do something and they let the world show them the way, one unfolding event after another. What is great is that when something happens to derail this group, they don’t even recognize it as a derailment, they simply steer around, over, through, or whatever to continue where they were heading. What’s even better is sometimes instead of pushing past this potential derail, they see a new opportunity they had never considered.
When you think of people who go with the flow, you may conjure up an image of a hippy, hanging out, going with the flow of life. This is not what this group is all about. This group is not lazy, lacking discipline, or could be considered slackers, by any means. This group simply takes a more open-minded approach to accomplishing what they would like. They know that to get to point B from point A there may be certain requirements, but they allow their ball to adapt to the circumstances and shift to fit. They also recognize that new opportunities, previously not considered could arise. This is an important element to consider for those who get stuck as adaptability is the key to avoiding derailment and initiating the development of any plan.
When you allow circumstances to dictate where you are and who you are, you have lost all freedom of choice. You have jumped right into a neat little categorized, homogenous box. When you look past the point that someone seems smarter than you (they could well be- so what?!) or that your current financial position is dire (that can change), then you can move past stuck. So what do both the planners and the free-flowers have in common? They know what they want. If you look at it this way, there is nothing really in between unless you are clueless to what you want; and that is why people get tripped up.
When a plan is derailed, if you know what you want, you figure a new path to get there, regardless of whether you are a planner or a free-flower. What you want as a planner is definitive, whereas what you want as a free-flower, could be limitless. Think of it this way, how many inventions resulted from an accident or something not going quite as planned? Other inventions were a result of careful actionable steps and planning. Both achieved the desired result. I believe people often get stuck when they look at the unexpected as negative. You learn from everything you do. If you eat a brussel sprout and think it is the nastiest thing on the planet, you have learned. If you eat a brussel sprout and think, “Wow! That’s great!,” you have learned.
The lesson to take away from this is that you can be diligent and never take your eye off the ball and adapt as the ball moves or you can let the ball change shape to adapt. Whichever way you go, by shifting perspective and adapting, you will allow your creativity and ingenuity to help you find a new path. You don’t need to “chalk this one up” as a failure, rather, as a lesson learned on a path that didn’t take you to your desired location. What you do need to do is reflect on what didn’t work and how you can get to where you wanted to go. This is also the time to reflect and ask yourself, “Did I lose sight of the ball all together?” If you are truthful, you may have found that instead of keeping your eye on the ball or allowing it to take another shape, you went down a rabbit trail all together without your ball. The great thing is, you can pivot your thinking and focus, find the ball, all, while going with the flow. Just follow the bouncing ball to get unstuck and achieve what you desire.
For more inspiration, read: It! Happens: A Practical Guide to Finding Your It by Jolene Church
available on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com, and other fine book retailers.
Jolene holds Doctorate of Management in Organizational Leadership and is a certified master success coach. Jolene's writing is continually inspired by the challenges that her clients are facing. She finds constant inspiration in the world around her and is profoundly honored to be living her purpose helping others turn impossible into possible.