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When life doesn’t go to plan

Growing up I never had a lot of stability in my life and maybe this is why I am such an organisation Queen now. I write lists for almost everything in my life, love to work systematically by ticking things off one by one and find great satisfaction at the end of a super productive day. When I was a teenager, I used to dream about what my life would look like by the time I reached the ripe old age of 25. I had a ‘life plan’ all mapped out. I was going to do well at High School, get an awesome OP, get into Law, smash out my Law degree, be admitted at the age of 21 and be married and have my own home by the time I was 25. Boy, oh boy, was I wrong! Next month I turn 28 and the only thing on my ‘life plan’ that I have achieved so far is being admitted as a Lawyer. Don’t get me wrong, I feel super grateful that I have access to education and that I have been able to achieve that goal. The old me would have felt like a failure and beat myself up for not achieving my life goals by now but the wiser version of me knows that life doesn’t always go to plan. In fact, I think it rarely ever does.

I have often found it difficult to accept when things don’t go to plan. Especially when I have put in so many hours of blood, sweat and tears. It can be defeating and overwhelming when you’ve tried so hard to make something happen and it just doesn’t happen. When I reflect on my life so far I can honestly say that not one thing has happened like I thought it would. I have witnessed both my friends and I go through university with this huge pressure on ourselves to get everything right the first time, to juggle everything in our lives with total precision and to get to the finish line at lightning fast speed. And what for? Because we believe it will bring us this huge sense of achievement, that we will be applauded by our loved ones, that we will be super successful and our lives will open up to this whole new shiny world. For me, as a planner and a super-organisation-nerd, I think it can be so easy to get swept up in the end goal that you forget to enjoy and celebrate the journey. And when our plan doesn’t play out exactly as we thought, it can be so easy to feel defeated and start questioning if we are smart/capable/worthy enough of the goal we so desire.

Life is long. We don’t need to achieve all the things we want by the time we reach the age of 25, 30, 40, etc. Beating yourself up because things have happened that you couldn’t control, deadlines have been pushed back, goals have taken longer to achieve then you expected – is super unhelpful. And so is comparing your life to that of your peers. Seeing people younger than you achieve the goals you have years before you do can be a sure-fire way to feel inadequate. This is where my ability to focus on staying in my own lane and running my own race has really helped me. It doesn’t matter what other people may be achieving – shifting the focus off your own goals and onto the achievements of others will only be to your detriment. We are all so different and have different backgrounds, financial circumstances, support circles, values, beliefs, strengths and weaknesses and it is so important to remember that. We don’t all need to achieve things at the same time or by the time we reach a certain age – our journeys all look different and they are meant to.

So, in a couple of weeks when I celebrate my 28th Birthday – rather than dwell on the fact that my life hasn’t gone to plan and that I’m not at the top of the mountain yet – I am going to celebrate all the knowledge I have gained, the valuable life lessons that I have been taught so far and I am going to be grateful for the things I have achieved and the wonderful people and experiences I have been privileged to share so far. I hope that if you’re like me, we can learn to focus less on the deadlines and the pressure to achieve our life goals and focus more on believing that life has a funny way of working out and that there is a plan for us even if it isn’t the one we originally had in mind.