At the end of my final year in high school, a classmate floated the question: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? You can bet that very same question resurfaced 4 years later at the end of university.
Some of us had dream careers; others wanted to go work and live in Europe; others had dreams of training and doing an Ironman Triathlon. Some of us did not even want to think that far ahead. We had plans, although most were vague. We all had ideas of what we wanted and where we wanted to end up, but none of us knew exactly how we would get there. For some, ‘the future’ gets planned out with checkpoints and milestones. For others, it’s a laissez faire approach that is sure to be filled with adventure.
To a certain extent, I think we are conditioned to create and measure success by ‘The Life Plan’. We’re asked as children what we want to be when we grow up, what we want to study in university, and where we see ourselves in 10 years.
Planners know what they want, and they often know what they need to do to get there. They’re the ones that knew they would be doctors, detectives, or firemen (or women!) since they were children, and they spend their entire lives working towards that goal.
At the other end of the spectrum are the Life Adventurers. They take life in by the moment, knowing that everything can change tomorrow. Their lives are made up of unexpected event after unexpected event, and they often don’t know what they want to do or where they will be in the next few years or even the next few months. They take opportunities as they come, and they roll with the punches. They are often difficult to keep up with because their lives are constantly changing.
Neither is wrong, and neither is better than the other. There is logic and downsides to both. The Plan is safe, secure and predictable, but can be inflexible and restrictive. Meanwhile, the Adventure is daring, exhilarating, and flexible, but unpredictable and uncertain. I suspect that most of us fall somewhere on the spectrum.
It’s good to have an idea of what you want from life, but ideas and goals are constantly moving targets. None of us will really know where we will end up until we’re there. As we grow, our ideals change and The Plan needs to accommodate for that if we are going to find happiness in our successes. That dream job you’ve aspired to might not be everything that you hoped or thought it would be. An opportunity you’re not expecting might force you to choose between the life you’ve always dreamed of and the life you never imagined. One person can crash into your life and change everything.
Life was meant to be an adventure. We aren’t meant to know what the future holds. We plan because uncertainty scares us. Anything can happen. But that’s also the beauty of it: anything can happen. Life happens in heartbeats, and that creates change. For some people, that means sticking to a well-defined Plan. But even the Plan will entail Adventures.
No matter which end of the spectrum you lean towards, remember that life happens in moments. Whether you’re a Planner or Adventurer, take life one step at a time. Planners, don’t be afraid to have an adventure. Adventurers, don’t be afraid to make plans. You both may be surprised at what you find. Either way, you will learn something valuable along the way.
Take life as it was meant to be lived: one moment and one step at a time.