MY FAVORITE KIND OF DAYS
My favorite kind of days are the ones that start out like any other. You wake up. Get out of bed. Drink some coffee. Eat breakfast. Maybe go for a walk or a stroll along the beach. Then out of nowhere, a random person crosses your path. Smiles and says hello. Starts talking to you. The next thing you know, you are sitting on the beach, watching the sun come up, sharing a bottle of Konyagi with a bunch of Tanzanian prostitutes. Or sitting in the middle of the jungle under a banyan tree, smoking a bowl with an Indian baba and a ripped, shirtless Russian dude.
The type of experiences that leave you looking around and wondering, how did I even end up here? If you would have asked me this morning what I was going to do that day, I never would have even come close to guessing this.
Some of the best experiences in life are often not the ones you plan for, but instead, the ones you just find yourself ending up in. They are things that you could not plan for even if you wanted to. Because you weren’t even aware that they were a possibility. When you are open to anything and not set on a particular destination, you can end up anywhere. This is the main reason that I love traveling. You never know where the day will take you.
This is not only possible when traveling. I am learning to approach life in the same way, no matter where I am. Instead of having fixed plans of what I need to do and things I need to accomplish, I am trying to focus on flowing with life and going in whatever direction it may take me.
SETTING SPECIFIC GOALS LIMITS OUR GROWTH
Many of us become incredibly focused on setting specific goals and have a clear picture in our heads of where we want to be in life. Then we focus all of our energy and daily plans towards doing things to get there. We even make daily checklists of what we need to accomplish that day to stay on track.
There is nothing wrong with working hard to get where we want to be. This may even be beneficial for short term projects at work. But I honestly believe that setting specific goals when it comes to planning the direction of our lives, limits us. It hinders our open mindedness and flexibility. We often become too focused on staying on track to achieve something that we lose sight of other opportunities that are presented to us along the way. Or even worse, something outside of our control prevents us from reaching one of our goals and we are left heartbroken.
THE FIVE YEAR PLAN
I am sure you have been asked the question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Let’s say you are asked that right now. Before answering, you might take into consideration where you are in your life currently. What you feel is missing. What you hope to accomplish. You might even think about what the person asking you would be satisfied to hear.
Looking back, if I had been asked this question at various points in throughout my life, I would have had completely different answers.
Fifteen years ago, I had never even stepped foot outside of North America. I was in a serious relationship. I worked for a newspaper’s non-profit program. At that time, if asked this question, my answer would have been something like. In five years, I will be living in Missouri. Married. With one kid. Using my degree, with a career in marketing. Because that is both the direction I was headed, and what I thought would be satisfying to me in the future.
Flash forward five years later. Am I where I said I would be? Not at all. I am a promotional model. Traveling around the United States. Working events for hundreds of companies. I am in a brand new relationship. Definitely not married. And not even close to having kids. If I had been asked this question again, then, I would have answered something like. In five years, I will be starting my own promotional staffing agency. Living in St. Louis. Marrying this guy I had just moved in with. (Thank the Universe that didn’t happen, no offense.)
Five years go by. How close did I come to achieving my dream five year plan? Not even. I am living in Los Angeles. Less than a mile from the beach. Working at a tech startup on data analysis projects. Traveling overseas in my free time. With a group of amazing friends who I didn’t even know five years prior. I must say that this ended up being way more exciting than what I had envisioned for myself.
YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW YET WHAT IS POSSIBLE
You get the point. So much can change in five years. Had I stuck to my five year plan at any of those points in my life, my life now would be incredibly different. Not bad. Just different. But also not as incredible.
So fifteen years ago, when working at the newspaper, why didn’t I answer the question with, “Jobless. Traveling the world. Experiencing life to the fullest that I am able. Completing a ten day silent meditation. Doing ayahuasca in the middle of the Amazon. Or sitting on the beach in Zanzibar sharing a bottle of liquor with five Tanzanian strippers. (Had to throw that in there again because life is so crazy, right.)
I think because I didn’t even know these things were possible for me. I was just a girl living in the small town of Columbia, Missouri. If I had stayed stuck on my original plan of being married with kids with a 9 to 5 job in Missouri, I definitely wouldn’t be the same person I am today. There is nothing wrong with the life I had envisioned for myself back then. I probably would be incredibly happy had I ended up there. It just wasn’t the direction life took me.
Sometimes when we don’t end up where we thought we would, we think we have failed. We have regret and feel bad about ourselves for not accomplishing exactly what we said we would. I strongly believe there is a balance between knowing what you want, working hard to get there, and being okay with ending up somewhere else.
FUCK GOALS, FOCUS ON FEELINGS
I am all about vision boards and acting in alignment to manifest what I want in life. Which in another language, may translate to “setting goals and working towards them.” But I think the key difference is that when manifesting something, you envision the end result you want and focus on feeling how you would feel as if you already had it. You don’t plan step by step what you will do to reach that destination. You simply trust and allow the Universe to guide you there. I think it is time we use this approach when planning the path of our lives as well.
Think about where you see yourself in five years. That is where you want to be now, but as you grow and embrace the path of your life, you really could end up somewhere completely different. And that is okay. Life can take you anywhere. So instead, I want to propose a different question. How do you want to feel in five years? In what ways do you want to grow as a person? Who do you want to become? Now instead of deciding exactly what path to take, open yourself up to all of the experiences that can possibly take you there.
As much as this cheesy saying makes me cringe. Don’t worry about the destination, embrace the journey. And hopefully, in five years, you will too look at where you are now, and smile. Because not sticking to the plan can lead you to a better place that you never even imagined.