The #1 Reason Why The Plans We Make Don’t Work

By Emily Fletcher

How do you experience time?

If you were raised in a Western culture, you may see time as a straight line: horizontal, with the past on the left, and the present in the middle, and the future on the right. Past, present, future — all happening separately.

Now, think for a second about how you use this concept of time in order to plan. Most of us intellectually know the only time we can truly take action is right now, but we still get seduced into reviewing the past and rehearsing the future — as if that will somehow help us to make better decisions and plan more effectively.

We’re able to acknowledge that the past is gone and the future hasn’t happened yet, but we spend so much time brooding and ruminating that we rob ourselves of the opportunity to be fully here right now.

It’s called speculation, and it is a colossal waste of time.”What will happen? What won’t happen? Why will it happen? If I do this, maybe this will happen; if I do this and THEN this, maybe this will happen.”

I have a theory about speculating: Speculation leads always and only to suffering.

So, how do we get out of speculation station? By being conscious of the fact that the present moment is the future in the making. If we’re spending right now planting stressed out, speculative seeds about what may or may not happen in the future, what do you think is going to grow? If you plant calm, intuitive seeds and water them with presence and kindness, what do you think will grow?

Instead of trying so hard to control the future, we want to take care that we’re planting high-quality seeds in the right now.

Now, this does not make planning irrelevant. As Eisenhower said, “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Life is never going to go according to plan. You can speculate about it as much as you want to, but one thing we know for sure is that life will never end up exactly how we imagine. How boring would that be? However, that doesn’t make the planning irrelevant. The planning is where we get clear on what we want in life and why we want it. Then the trick is to practice surrender, acceptance, and trust in nature.

Make Your Plan, Then Surrender

The words acceptance, trust, and surrender can easily be misinterpreted as giving up, quitting, or laziness. Nothing could be further from the truth. It takes courage to surrender.

Real mastery is knowing when to pack the parachute and when to jump out of the plane. When you plan, plan. Put all of your attention on making the most elegant blueprint.

Then take that plan and throw it out the window.

If you’re totally confused, stick with me. The purpose of metaphorically trashing our plan isn’t to undo all the hard work; it’s to surrender and accept that the things we want in our lives will show up whenever they’re meant to.

Because we can’t see as much as nature can. Nature is the collective consciousness of all that is. It isn’t hindered by the constraints of the individual human brain. So we have to be open to the idea that maybe, just maybe, nature may be able to handle the timing better than we can simply because it has more information. We make the plan, and then we trust that nature will show up in a way that is more elegant than we can conceive of with our limited human awareness. It’s a two-way street.

So, make beautiful plans. Get so clear on what you want to create in your life and why. Then throw your expectations out the window and start taking action with lots of room for improvisation.

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