In addition to all the holiday plans and preparations everyone is busy with at this time of year, many people take some time to look back at what they’ve accomplished and experienced in the past year, and to look forward as they plan for the future and all that they’d like to accomplish and experience in the coming year.

I’ve never been able to sit down and plan out my short-term and long-term goals in terms of six-month, one-year, and five-year projections.  Whenever I’m asked – in a class or workshop, for instance – where I want to be in five years, I’m always tempted to respond, “Wherever life takes me.”

What I’m likely to hear at that point is the familiar axiom that says, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

I do understand and agree with that, but even though plans and goals are important and necessary, I believe a few additional points need to be recognized and incorporated into the equation. One is that making plans and goals doesn’t automatically get them done. It’s the day-to-day work you do and the steps you take toward those goals that lead to success. If you don’t add these to your list of plans and goals, you’re not going to get very far in achieving them.

Another point is that as you’re working toward those goals, life may have other – and often, even better – plans for you.  John Lennon once said that life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans. Woody Allen put it another way: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.”

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan, of course. But it does mean that our plans shouldn’t be too rigid. I once worked with a leader and trainer whose mantra was “100% scripted, 100% flexible.” That makes a lot more sense to me. It means we make plans and establish goals, but we don’t put blinders on that keep us focused on our goals, but also keep us from noticing unanticipated discoveries and opportunities along the way.

I can think of a number of examples of this from my own life. One is when I started out writing what I thought of as a “mom” column, and it grew into a forum for helping people – including myself – discover the pleasures and treasures in everyday life. Another came when I worked with a coach on my goal of becoming a professional speaker, and discovered in myself a passion and talent for the coaching process. I use that now to help others pursue and achieve their dreams and goals.

Take a few minutes – right now if you’re able – to think about all that you’ve accomplished and enjoyed this past year, and all that you’d like to achieve in the coming year. Not just your big, “official” goals and plans, but anything in your life that’s worth celebrating.

Then enjoy discovering, if you don’t already know, that there is much in your life to celebrate.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on December 8, 2016.
©Betty Liedtke, 2016

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