People are planners. It is inevitable. We plan out our meals, what we are going to wear to a particular event, where we are going on our next vacation, what we are going to study in school, what field we are going to work in, when we are going to find our spouses, when we are going to have kids (and how many kids we are going to have), and a number of other things that we hold of importance in the spectrum of life. Planning allows us to have a feeling of comfort and safety. Planning gives us a sense of purpose and satisfaction as we are able to cross things off our various lists. As amazing as planning can be, and it is pretty amazing, what scares many of us is that no matter how well we plan, there’s a pretty good chance that things will not go exactly how we wanted them to. That’s right folks, life is full of surprises and it does not care about your agenda. It has an agenda of its own.

Life would be much simpler if it was the cut-and-dry, black-and-white, smooth sailing vessel we wanted it to be, but instead, its complexity makes it a somewhat rocky ship that is an overwhelming shade of gray. There are times when things go exactly how we wanted them to. You indeed did work your butt off in high school, go to your dream college, and get into the program you desired. There are times when you get something you wanted, but life took you on a path you did not expect and you had to struggle a little bit along the way. Once you got into your program, you hit some speed bumps. Breaking off your five-year relationship with your significant other has you a little upset and it has taken focus off school. At the same time, you found out your grandmother has fallen ill and you’re not sure how much time she has left. Your personal struggles and shifted focus cause your grades to drop, and you are informed that you will have to spend another semester in school, which you do not have the money for. There are times when you don’t get what you want at all. All you ever wanted to do in life was be an accountant, but you could not pass your CPA exam for the life of you, so you ended up in another business-related field where you are neither stimulated nor making the kind of money you want to make. Being an adult is full of the “this is so unfair” mentality, and we often stress over the path we are headed down.

Photo Credit: Ryan Magnuson (Minnehaha State Park; Minneapolis, MN)
Photo Credit: Ryan Magnuson (Minnehaha State Park; Minneapolis, MN)

Our stress about life, the future, and everything else we think about is directly rooted in our lack of control and it is no fun feeling this way. I was responsible! I took the time and put in the work to get to where I wanted to go, so why isn’t my plan going how I envisioned it?! Did I do something wrong? If you find yourself asking these questions, which I definitely do sometimes, please know that you are not alone. Even those who seem like they have the perfect life and have it all together do not. They either do a great job of hiding their anxiety or know exactly how life is supposed to be, which rids them of many of the worries that every day people have. I want to focus on that second part (ridding yourself of your worries), because I believe that is the key to finding your middle ground.

Those who are calm, cool, and collected (they really are this way, there is no pretending here) have their plans, but they know how mysterious life can be. They know that curve balls will be thrown and that they will swing and miss time and time again. They know they may have to re-invent themselves more than once in some area of their life. They know that life is not all sunshine and rainbows, and that they may face some turmoil over finances, family stuff, health issues, a job crisis, not having a family yet, or all the other things that comprise one’s life. Yet, despite their knowledge of the following, they continue to both move forward and minimize their stresses. How do they do it? It starts with a mindset, which for them, is the notion that there is a whole lot we are not in control of. Things happen for one reason or another, things we can do nothing about, and we have to deal with it. This leads to the next thing, which is attitude. We can choose to be anxious or down, but where does that really get us? It gets us nowhere and can turn us into a shell of who we were meant to be. Instead, look at the situation you are in through the eyes of an optimist, make some changes, and keep moving. Showing life how resilient you are not only strengthens you, but also gives you a confidence you never thought you had.

All in all, what these positive, non-anxious people understand more than anything is that there is already a plan for them, and that everything they go through teaches them some sort of lesson. These lessons allow you to grow and be who you are supposed to be, so stop making mountains out of mole hills. Stop worrying about things that do not matter and “your plan”. Make time for what makes you happy. Love those closest to you like crazy. Live your life and don’t look back.


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