Be Willing To Throw The Plan Out The Window

Have you ever heard the saying “throw the baby out with the bathwater?” It means to start from scratch, begin afresh. In your career, this may actually need to happen.  While sometimes only one thing needs to be adjusted, sometimes we need to throw out the “baby” which is the plan we’ve held onto so tightly for so long.

I recently saw a fun video of how people in the Midwest say goodbye. It’s set to the Mexican Hat Dance song and shows a roundabout way of going from saying goodbye, to chatting at the door, to following the person to their car, to actually saying goodbye. The plan was to say goodbye and leave, but the actual path is a series of funky turns in other directions. While the video is hilarious, it’s also a true picture of the difference between the “plan” and the reality of life. In hindsight, the journey was fun and took you in different directions and eventually to the end result but in the middle it can be stressful because reality isn’t matching. So let’s dig into how to throw that plan out the window so you can enjoy the journey more.

Be Your Own Friend

If your best friend came to you and told you about how her life wasn’t matching her plan and how it was making her feel; how would you respond? It would most likely be a response littered with encouragements like “I know it’s hard now, but you’ll get through it.” or “You’re one of the smartest and dedicated people I know, you’ll get there even if it’s not a straight line.” For you, that internal voice is much harsher. You’d never talk to a friend the way you think about yourself. So take it from your friend perspective and remind yourself that you have managed through so many things and come out the other side. Sometimes that other side is even better than the original plan. 

Check Your Rearview Mirror

Remember that beautiful plan you made in college? The one where your first job was your dream job and you were making an impact and doing important things…and then, well, that wasn’t actually what it looked like? For me, I had every class planned out for semesters in advance to make sure I had the right amount of credits and the right workload every semester to graduate on my schedule. A few classes needed to be moved around, but for the most part, I was able to work my plan without too many hiccups. But that’s not how my career looked. I’m able to see that now with about a decade of full-time jobs. But what I also see is the resolution of some of the times where I was so off plan that it made my head spin. Check your history and your previous plans. You’ll see where you threw out the plan and it worked out anyway.

Pick Up New Skills In The Detour

Maybe the divergence from the plan gives you some space to learn a new skill or take on a role that wasn’t previously planned. Embrace the opportunity the detour presents as you’ll have a chance to grow in new and different ways. 

Still Make Plans

If you don’t make the plans, you can’t throw them out! Having the framework helps you set goals, understand your interests, areas of growth and what will make you feel fulfilled. By being willing to throw the plan out the window, you allow yourself to appreciate a different path that gets you to those goals. Try this goal setting activity to help you set and manage your dreams!

Find The Fun

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What song will your detour be set to? Will it be the Mexican Hat Dance with the points of your career being crazy twists and turns? Or will it be a meme of someone taking the stack of papers labeled “plan” and throwing them out the car window? While it may not have been a planned event or turn in your career, you can learn and find something to laugh about or enjoy along the way. 

No matter what the plan is, it’s ok to detour from the plan while keeping your goals in sight. It may eventually work into where you are going with new learnings or a new perspective that you would not have picked up if the plan had unfolded perfectly. So find the fun, make your meme and go with the current flow. 

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