"I don't plan for my future. I live in the moment and everything works itself out. After all, I used to plan everything and then I got burned by my ex wife. Everything that I had been working for came crashing down around me. So living in the moment is what matters. You need to be happy now. You could be hit by a bus tomorrow."
I hear this type of view fairly regularly. There is no doubt that it is a valid view for some people.
However, when I have the opportunity to drill down and ask a few questions from people who hold this view I discover that when they said that they used to plan for the future, the plans that they are talking about were in their heads and contained no detail about how they were going to be put into action. Their plans were really just high level goals.
When they then got "burned", usually by their partner or their employer, they externalised the situation and believed that they had no control over nor contribution to the negative outcome. It was everyone else's fault. It was also the fault of their plan, even though it wasn't really a plan, it was just a list of high level goals. So that's why they don't plan anymore. It's safer to just go with the flow.
My experience is that when you have a plan that includes your high level goals and what you are going to do to achieve those goals, you are more likely to be happy in the moment as you travel the journey of creating the future you desire.
Recently my eldest son and daughter provided such an example. My wife and I have clear plans regarding how we want to raise our children so that they are respectful, happy and contributing members of society when they are adults. The journey of implementing our plans is at times challenging as we balance teaching our children vital life lessons while enabling them to enjoy life at the same time.
On a Sunday morning when I wasn't home my daughter noticed our 85 year old neighbour struggling to mow his lawns. Sienna called to her 12 year old brother who was still in bed to let him know what Joe was doing. Liam quickly climbed out of bed, put his clothes on and went across the road to offer his services. Thankfully Joe let him complete the task.
When I returned home and was told this story I was delighted. My daughter and my son had both seen an opportunity to help our neighbour and had taken action to do so. This was an example of the behaviours we are hoping to instill in our children for their future being lived today. Do you think my wife and I were happy in this moment?
When you plan for your future and you know both why and how you are going to bring those plans into reality, your capacity to be happy in the moment increases. So planning for your future is not about post-poning happiness. It's about doing the things that will enhance your happiness in the future, that also increase your awareness of happiness in the moment.
How are you planning for your future?
Gary Ryan facilitates the OTM Plan for Personal Success® Program. Visit here for information about this program.