Saturday, March 8, 2014

Why Plan?

The Big Girl Chronicles: Why Plan?

Sometimes I stop and take a look around.  I wonder exactly what I’m doing in this place.  This isn’t where I’m supposed to be because I’ve made preparations to NOT be this person. As I reminisce about what life was like at the time I felt I was closest to becoming my best I experience a startling personal revelation.  Although I’ve prepared myself to earn a living in a profession, I’d not done very much planning in other aspects of my life.    

I listened to an older woman share how she had certain wants for her life but ended up in another place instead.  She stated that “life happened.”  For whatever reason I became focused on that sentence.  “Life happened.” Isn’t “life” what happens when you’re living on your own terms and realizing your goals?  In reality, she hasn’t begun to live.  “Life” has now become a factor that is no longer under her influence.  The cause of my being sidetracked definitely isn’t because of “life.” I am where I am because of poor decision-making and failure to plan.  By not having a plan, the decisions I’ve had to make about my future have been driven instead by impulse and what seems like a good idea at that moment rather than what would best serve my purpose.   Ultimately, by not making decisions in accordance with a plan I’ve given up control and allowed my life to be manipulated by circumstances. 

Among the firsts of things I realize is that I’ve taken too much for granted.  I assumed that employment would always be available only to learn that the job market isn’t self-sustaining and can be shifty.  But that doesn’t mean that earning money is beyond my control.  Had I have planned, I could’ve explored other sources of income to increase my earning potential and serve as a resource in times when jobs are scarce.  During times that I was employed I didn’t have a plan for the money I earned, again assuming that I’d always have access to money.  The potential of that money has been lost in accessories and gadgets that have long been forgotten and will be obsolete upon retirement.

Another significant aspect of planning includes networking and friendships.  I didn’t take these things seriously enough.  I overlooked events where I could’ve met people and formed associations that would provide a stronger foundation for my future.  Planning friendships that are meaningful and mutually rewarding is also an important part of establishing a support system.  Not making wise and well thought out choices can create more stress and unnecessary hindrances that could be avoided.      

The three examples mentioned above are among the most important of decisions each individual is responsible for in his or her life:  career, money and social life. I’ve read somewhere that the future prison population is predicted based upon periodic monitoring of academic success in public schools.  That means that while children are in school preparing themselves for adulthood and have yet to decide exactly what they will do or who they will be in life, an entire institution is planning to accommodate their failure.  What this says is that if you don’t have plans for your future, don’t panic.  There are others who are planning for you, and make quite a profitable living doing so.

As I assess my current situation and plan to rebound from the “casualties” of my carelessness, I marvel at how much I’ve taken for granted, overlooked and undervalued.  I now find myself full of ideas and potential but without the means I once had to bring any of that into fruition.  Given my new circumstances, this is how I intend to begin my new journey:

Take inventory of present resources.

Funds and resources that were once readily available I now have limited access to.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m at a total loss.  The first item on my agenda is to explore what possibilities there are now.  There is potential to make new friendships and associations that could become helpful in building a better future.  There are opportunities and resources that are designed specifically for people in situations similar to mine that I now have access to.  Armed with knowledge and skill from my past experience, I can also use that to impact my present circumstances from a more personal level. 

Get in where you fit in.

Never before has that old saying been more relevant than now.  Finding what space that I can occupy  is an important building block to better circumstances.  By taking advantage of workshops and support groups, I not only make myself visible in the community but also get a feel for where I can be the most effective.  You never know when a potential employer might notice a volunteer who has consistent attendance, productive interaction and employable skills. 

Think outside of the box.       

The most "eye-opening" experience I've had from the changes that have occurred is that I was more of a resource for creating a better life for myself than I realized.  I always had hobbies and interests that I used to entertain myself from time to time.  But never had I given any thought to actually exploring how these things could create another stream of income.  Realizing this has improved my ability to explore how I can create a better outcome from what seems a hopeless situation.

Without question, the most important thing I can do is learn from my past mistakes and move on.  Spending excessive amounts of time whining and pitying those failures won't help encourage the present nor create a better tomorrow.  And once I'm taking myself seriously enough - and ready for others too as well - I'll sit down and create a concrete plan that will make my future well worth the effort I put into it today.

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