We don’t really plan our lives. That’s one thing I learned in my 37 (almost 38) years of existence. What we do is aspire for things, events and people, and align our actions with those aspirations. If we’re lucky, we get what we want. If we’re not, then we move on to the next aspiration and go through the same cycle all over again.
I learned this the hard way. When I was in my early 30s, I thought all I had to do to get everything I wanted was to neatly plan my life. Some plans panned out. Some— actually, the major ones—did not. And that was how I learned that I can only plan so much.
I know a lot of people will disagree with me. I know a few who would probably say that they are where they are now precisely because of their plans. Well if that’s the case, then good for you. Good for you if because of your strategic plans, you are exactly in that place you imagined you would be years ago. That can either mean that your plans were perfectly aligned with external events, or that they were not so aligned but you were too stubborn to adjust. I’m not saying that the latter is bad. Go for whatever works for you, right?
In my case, what has worked so far is the mindset that even as I plan, I should make room for the possibility that life will always happen the way it’s meant to happen. I didn’t really plan the life I have now. In my 20s, my plan was to make it big as a litigation lawyer. In my 30s, when it became clear that I wasn’t happy doing litigation, I entered public service and let my career take a backseat as I served in my prayer community. My plan then was to spend my life serving in that community. But when the expression of my spirituality began to change, I felt the need to leave that community and become more contemplative. Career wise, I decided it was time to specialize so I planned on going to graduate school. Just as I was doing that, however, my father got sick and required my full attention. When he died after eight months of suffering (both for him and for us), I was just so tired to make further plans that I decided to simply let life happen.
After that, several things— all not according to my plan— have happened. I’ve changed jobs, done consultancy work, fallen in love, lost weight and gained it back, resigned, negotiated for a better offer, turned down a job and reconsidered—all in a span of one and a half years, and all without me planning any of it.
Some might argue that this is not the way to live. Maybe on certain days, I will agree with them. Most days, however, I still think that my plans are just that: Plans. And until God puts His stamp of approval on them, I’m really better off just letting life happen according to His will. My life is not perfect, but I’m content. I’m not overly ecstatic, but I’m joyful. And as long as there’s God in your life and joy in your heart, what else is there to aspire for?