Ester asked why people are sad.
“That’s simple,” says the old man. “They are the prisoners of their personal history. Everyone believes that the main aim in life is to follow a plan. They never ask if that plan is theirs or if it was created by another person. They accumulate experiences, memories, things, other people’s ideas, and it is more than they can possibly cope with. And that is why they forget their dreams.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Zahir
Everywhere we go in life, we’re told to have a plan. Our entire educational system is a plan designed to prepare you for life. Every New Year, you’re told to create goals or three words to follow as your theme for the year or whatever is trendy that year. As a worker, you must have a career development plan and it is your responsibility to be the master of that plan. At the end of the year, you will review your level of success in meeting said plan, and your progress will be assessed based on how close or far you were from your target.
But what happens if you go off the grid? How lost do you feel without your detailed map? Can one even survive without a plan?
People of all ages, today, are starting to question “the plan” for their plans. How can one be truly mindful checking off items from a list that was created for you? Let’s say you’ve got the education, the partner, the house, the car, the debt, the title, the friends, the vacations and everything on the list. And now you stopped to ask some deep questions because you finally took a much needed pause. Many take a short pause since they find the answers overwhelming, while others spend a great deal of time questioning to gain understanding.
Alternatively, you may be starting out and feel daunted by the plan that does not speak to you in your core. You are trying to figure out how to navigate. You may be wondering who created this plan since you saw firsthand your parents’ stress trying to keep it all together. Perhaps their work prevented one of them from participating in your school events, and then the company they were loyal to, at your expense, let them go and you experienced their breakdown. You wondered how that plan served them and your family. You vowed to have a different relationship with work, and to create a different path. But how to navigate that path and not lose pieces of yourself along the road?
The question I find myself asking most often is: When will the systems that create the plans change? For example, humans are living longer, especially ones who are taking impeccable care of themselves by making conscious choices around their holistic health. So why don’t we create new ways of making plans? It is a huge opportunity to make life less of a burden.
For example, the original definition of mortgage is from Old French, literally ‘dead pledge,’ from mort (from Latin mortuus ‘dead’) + gage ‘pledge.’ When the oldest son of a nobleman needed large sums of money, the repayment of his debt would be pledged to his inheritance, after his father’s death.
Today, many people are developing a new relationship with ownership. Some would like to share more and simply don’t know how to do it. Others are forming small communities, where they have the freedom to explore new ways of co-living and co-working. And it’s not just the younger generation – people of all ages are increasingly seeking more connection and meaning, especially the ones willing to risk “the plan” to co-create new paths that serve humanity at the core.
Did you think five years ago that one day a private car would appear in your driveway, and you would get in it, with two strangers, and get to your destination? Did you ever imagine you would rent a stranger’s home when you traveled or share a meal at a stranger’s home with five other people visiting that country? It may seem novel but in essence, these are ancient practices.
We may think sharing is cool because it is now connected to technology, but it is technology that is connecting us in ancient ways and making community something increasingly important. We just got a bit mesmerized by the plan technology had for us instead of recognizing how to integrate it effectively into our lives and our work. When did we stop sharing? And how can we start doing it with Vitamin B – Boldness?
The good news is we still have time to change our mindset and shift our ways.
When we stop and put the plan down, much that is right there in front of us can be seen clearly.
We can see the importance of asking questions and making time to think instead of rushing to achieve the plan.
We can recognize the chance we have to heal the way we live and work. To build our community. To pause and ask questions, and listen to answers that may just end up saving our lives and those of our businesses.
After all, to be a conscious 21st century leader, you must have Vitamin S – sharing openly – infused in your core.
It’s time for us all to recognize that now is the moment to explore and embrace the fact that each of us are artists and creators.
What questions are you asking today?
How can you truly innovate and follow your path with the vibrant colors that are in your heart and mind, wanting to flow out on your canvass? Who is by your side to collaborate and co-create with meaning and purpose?
Who do you trust? Who trusts you? How much do you trust yourself to let go and connect in new and ancient ways?
P.S. I was just reminded that two years ago today, I posted and shared this wisdom: