“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
You’ve heard it before. You know how important it is to plan as much as you can if you ever want to have any success in your life. Planning is how you stave off failure. Plans make the world go round. Blah blah blah…Benjamin Franklin was cool and all, but I’m not here for it.
I call BS.
If you’ve learned anything about me up to this point, then you know that I am proof that plans can’t save you from failure, nor can they guarantee success. You know what guarantees success or failure? Adaptability. You can have the most organized daily planner this side of the equator–Those of you who have your monthly agendas organized to the max may hate me for this–but if you don’t know how to adapt to the curveballs of life: YOU WILL LOSE. The key is to stick and move.
I’ve made so many plans in life that simply vaporized into thin air instead of leading me to the goal I had in mind. It’s happened so many times, that I’ve all but given up completely on the idea of planning. I hate the disappointment of a failed plan so much that I’d rather rely on my skills of adaptation than on a plan. At this point in my life, I’d like to think that instead of making concrete plans, I’ve become more of a forward thinker who looks forward to the potholes of life so that I’m not completely taken by surprise.
There’s one plan in particular that changed the course of my life and forever changed my view on plans.
*insert dream sequence*
It was 2005. I was a senior in high school. I’d already decided that I would go to school to study Culinary Arts and I would do so at Johnson & Wales University. Having grown up in a low-income household my whole life, I still had no doubt that I’d be going to college. As a matter of fact, I knew that I would go to college for 4 years, graduate, work in a restaurant (maybe even own one), and have all the income I’d need to pay back my student loans.
What a crazy plan, right?
Well, what had happened was…
I completed one full year of school. In my second year, I suffered some kind of weird, depressive breakdown where it was really hard to get out of bed and I was stressed and not really myself. I was stressed because I had rent to pay, and no job with which to pay it–and for many other reasons. Because I couldn’t get myself out of bed one too many times, I was dropped from school and had to go back home. When I first got back home, I was so upset with myself for not completely the program at JWU, that I didn’t want to go back to school for anything at all. I had no idea what I would study next. I mean, if you can’t go to Johnson & Wales, where can you go? That’s sad.
Fast forward 2 years or so–they were not fast AT ALL–and I’ve finally gotten back into school at a community college. Great, I’m going to study Liberal Arts, be done in 2 years and transfer to a university for something else. There was only one problem with this plan: my gallbladder. I’d completed my first year and was working on my second when I have to have an emergency surgery to remove my gallbladder. I was only 23 years old, but my gallbladder was very angry and wasn’t gonna take it ANYMORE!! I was out of school for 2 weeks of recovery, reaching out to my instructors to find ways to make up work. Nope. No making up anything. I’d been dumped by my gallbladder and by my instructors.
I’d had enough. I HAD TO FINISH COLLEGE!!! Determined to finish school, I gathered up all of my credits and transferred to Norfolk State University where and studied for another 2 years before FINALLY graduating at the age of 27.
The success in my story was not in the planning, but in the determination to adapt and move forward. My desire to finish outweighed the disappointment of my failed plan. Don’t mistake my disdain for planning as an equal dislike of goal-setting. In my eyes, these two ideas are not the same. I’m all for you having goals, but what I’m NOT for is the notion that a plan alone will help you achieve those goals. Failed plans are disappointing as hell and can throw you off track if you let them. If you’re going to plan for ANYTHING, you’d better be planning to adapt. You have to be able to keep one hand on the wheel and one hand ready to shift gears. Stick and move.