I spend two months planning a three-day vacation, but I spend almost no time whatsoever planning for the rest of my life. I have a vague idea of what I want to accomplish, but I continually shy away from organizing, planning, and preparing for my future.

If this sounds familiar, then read on.

What exactly does planning for the future involve? Simply seeing where you are and then deciding where you want to go. The challenge here exists as much for the first half of this process, as the second. Yes, the future is full of options and unknowns, but the real fear lies in not wanting to see where you really are; you're afraid to examine your life too closely.

Taking an accurate inventory of your life -- gaining the perspective of seeing where you've been, what you've done and not done -- can be frightening. How will you be able to reconcile and justify wasting so much of your time? Your image will be shattered if it's forced to recognize this discrepancy. You cannot absorb the blame for your actions. Instead you place the blame on outside forces, relinquishing control over your future in order to justify your past. By continuing to do what you've always done, you never have to question your past judgment.

When you are forced to look at your lack of accomplishments, you have a million excuses and plenty of blame to justify your actions or, more appropriately, inactions. And it's this very blame that inhibits you from taking control of your life now.

 

If you don't have a specific destination, then you don't have to worry about not showing up.

 

The reluctance to set goals and plan for the future relieves you of the burden to achieve. Clearly, if you don't have a specific destination, then you don't have to worry about not showing up. You may be the type of person who shoots an arrow at the side of a barn and then draws a circle around it after it lands. In this way, you never miss. You can show the world that you succeeded in hitting the bull's-eye. You care little for what you were aiming for; you just need to convince yourself and the world that whatever you hit was your target.

For this reason you may dislike milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries, and reunions. Any marker or indication of time is an unwelcome reminder that your life is passing you by. You prefer to keep life vague -- a stream of events and memories.

So, what to do?

Before you click away, make a decision to reclaim responsibility for control of your life. Stop placing blame outside yourself -- on your parents, your boss, your lack of upbringing, the lousy hand you were dealt in life -- and accept the reality that from this moment forward, you are fully and wholly responsible. The exact moment you take responsibility for your circumstances you put yourself in the driver's seat. Nothing can happen until you take this first step; so why not take it now?

As soon as you lose the illusion that other people are responsible for your misfortune, you claim the power that has always been within your grasp. What are you going to do in the next minute, hour, and day? If you fail to plan, then by default you allow the momentum of your past to carry you, and I'll bet the past isn't a place you want to spend any more time than you have to.

The beginning of all positive change begins with some version of, "I am responsible; no one will come along and save me or do it for me; nothing in my life will change for the better, unless I change."

As long as we believe that our unhappiness is the result of circumstances and things done to us, rather than our proactive choices and response to circumstances, we can never become healthier or happier. As our sages remind us, "If I am not for myself, who will be for me?" (Ethics of the Fathers. 1:14). We cannot choose responsibly if we do not acknowledge that we have this power. Once we take responsibility for our lives we are free to move forward with a renewed passion and excitement for life itself.

Appreciate the experiences that have brought you to this point and determine the direction in which you really want your life to go. As long as you realize that you're the only one who is really in control, then you have every reason in the world to plan ahead.

 

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