Okay, maybe you can plan to write all your essays 3 weeks before they are due, but it’s not for sure that you will actually stick to that plan. It might not even be your fault. Maybe it’s just your flatmate walking into your room at 3pm with a crate of beer and one thing leads to another, or maybe you just somehow find yourself rewatching all seasons of Scrubs insteand of spending time in the library And even if you have the discipline to plan all the uni work there’s still things that just can’t be pressed into the shape of the time management template that some intern at student learning services drafted in his lunch break.
It seems like most people generally agree that planning helps to accomplish set goals, and according to my first-year business lectures (well, the ones I remember) there are countless studies that explain why exactly planning is essential. Even worse, any activity that’s not planned is apparently doomed to fail. But is that really true? I think that there’s actually a lot of situations in our lives that can’t be planned, and they’re mainly related to our social life and everything to do with love, family, and friendship. Unless you’re a manipulative vampire it’s just not possible to plan when you meet your best friend, when you fall in love and which people you value in your life (and if it is, someone please teach me how to do it!). It seems like it’s all the parts of life that actually create happiness that can’t be planned.
But that’s not the only problem with planning. Another issue with creating some sort of map showing the future is that values and goals shift. When I moved from Germany to Scotland two years ago it wasn’t just my address that changed, the last few years have also made me a different person. I’d like to think that I’m now better than I was before (apart from that tendency to order Jäger bombs, I feel like I haven’t improved in that field), but it doesn’t matter if that’s true or not. The important part is that I set my priorities differently and because I found new things that are important to me, or even rediscovered old passions-
But if people’s goals and values change, how could they possible stick to a detailed plan that dictates that they have to be married with 28 and take out a mortgage a year later?
I actually asked my coach about this and he agreed that it’s difficult to make a plan that covers everything, but what a plan can do is set a general direction. It might not be possible to plan details, but we are in control of our own attitudes and how we react to different situations. It probably goes back to the saying that ‘serendipity favours the prepared’, and while we can’t plan to meet the right people we can remind ourselves to react and behave in a way that increases the likelihood of meeting those people.
Life isn’t a steady flow of events, it has twists and turns and sometimes just refuses to stick to a set plan.
And that’s why personally I think life works best when we deal with it through some sort of contingency approach to it. And the one other thing that first-year business has taught me is that there’s even more evidence for that than there is for a strict plan.
At the end of the day we can’t predict the future, but we can try to react to it as good as we can.