If life is change, then how does planning work?

I firmly believe that there are two core ways in which to run your life. You can either:

  • Plan everything out to the Nth degree, and hope nothing upsets your plan
  • Expect that something will happen to ruin what you are doing, and be able to bounce back

A lot of people believe in the “plan it all out” strategy. Problem is that life does not work that way. Life is change, and no matter how you plan, invariably something will happen that you cannot plan for. And in that case, all of your planning will be for nothing.

I read this great article in a now defunct magazine which was part of the Forbes empire – it was called Forbes ASAP, and it was all about leading tech thought and investment etc. The article was called “How the West Kicked Butt

In this article, the author postulated that the reason the west coast was getting tons more investment than the east coast was the “style” of the place as opposed to the ideas coming out of that place. The author suggested that the difference was planning vs resilience – and used the weather and earthquakes as the metaphor. On the east coast, you know that during the upcoming winter, you are probably in for terrible weather. So you prepare for the weather: you buy warm clothes, you get snow tires for your car etc. You have some idea what is going to happen so you plan your life. So planning is a big deal. The better your plan, the better you can deal with this known quantity: bad weather. On the west coast, on the other hand, you have no idea when a devastating earthquake may occur.

So you can’t plan for it: sure you can get supplies in etc in case one occurs, but you can’t really plan for when it happens. So what is a big deal? Bouncing back from disaster: or resilience. The ability to claw back from bad things that happen. That’s more important than planning on the west coast.

So why is resilience better than planning? Simple. This article was focused on business and investment: it supposed that venture investors would prefer to invest in companies which could survive sudden adverse conditions.

Life is like that too. Being able to survive sudden adverse conditions is much more critical to life than planning out your every step.

So to all of those people who plan out their lives to the Nth degree, I say:
RELAX. Sure, make a plan, but don’t go overboard. Life will get in the way. That’s its job. Instead, focus on being able to bounce back from adversity. Move on quickly.

Like in craps. When you throw a bad roll, you just move on to the next shooter. You don’t sit there and focus on that guy who just lost you $1200.

Just move on to the next win.