I’ve been pondering this state of “no set plan” for a couple of months now. In my last blog post, I spoke about how strange it felt to not have a set direction after spending the entire year of 2018 thinking I knew exactly where I was headed and working towards that end.
The only thing that has really changed since that post is my mindset. I am now more willing to be alright with where I am.
From time to time, there’s a little voice that pops up and says: “You don’t know where you’re going so you should be setting goals, making things happen. Hustling.”
Even though that might be great advice in some cases, I’ve come to understand something about “hustling” which is: When the hustle stems from passion, it’s fruitful. When it stems from fear or urgency to change for the sake of change, it’s not. You need a solid direction when you are hustling and it is OK to stand in place for a season and take in where you are without the compulsion to be moving and achieving.
I often look to my past to help me think about how things might play out in the future. When I do that I can say in retrospect that I’ve never really known for certain where I’m going. It feels freeing to acknowledge that. Oh, sure I’ve had plans and a rough idea of where I might like things to lead. But I’ve realized that I’m on a path that is ever changing, ever evolving, and can’t be nailed down to a rigid, calculated trajectory. Would I ever have thought I’d end up where I am now, doing what I’m doing now at this time of my life? Nope. Iowa? What the…
But when I moved here it was 1000% where my path was leading. How did I know? Nothing could keep me from it.
That feeling of surety felt like excitement and absolute confidence. At the time I didn’t know how all of the specifics would play out but I felt certain that they would fall into place. I didn’t have a job I was transferring to, I didn’t have an apartment or house rented, but the overwhelming feeling of rightness eclipsed all of that. I felt like I could work out those details as things unfolded.
Although those times of surety and big change are wonderful and satisfying, what do you do during the long stretches in between where you feel like you’re just plodding along? I think we put way too much pressure on ourselves to be constantly achieving. I’ve also noticed that we’re often so close to our everyday lives that we don’t have the perspective to notice the subtle ways in which things are changing.
When I took mental stock at the end of 2018, my initial thought was “not much happened.” But when I reflected more fully, it became clear that there were a TON of new experiences, new creative ventures and new relationships that had evolved progressively throughout the year. Since they happened a little bit at a time it was easy to overlook them and feel like I was exactly where I’d been twelve months prior, but that wasn’t the case at all. I’ve found it’s helpful to remember this during times when it feels like nothing’s happening.