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How many times have you planned everything, only to find out that in the end, everything went differently? I think the answer from most of you will be: way too often. I can relate.
“Life is what happens to us while we are busy making other plans.”
A few years ago, my boyfriend asked me to come to the wedding of one of his colleagues. I love weddings. You get to see two people surrounded by there loved ones sharing the most profound emotions with all of these people. But also, food and entertainment. Who says no to that?
“But,” he said, “we will have to take some time off from work, I think.”
” Why, is it midweek?” I asked.
“No, it will be in Greece.”
“I’m in. When do we go there?”
“What?! Already?? We don’t even have tickets and a hotel yet! And what will we be doing the rest of the week?”
As you can see, I was a bit of a planner. I used to plan my entire life minutely, even my holidays. That way, I figured, I should be able to max out on, well, my whole life! But it is also time-consuming and stressful because things rarely go as planned. Lately, many of my plans went ‘wrong’ and ‘failed’ (can you hear the self-judgment there?) and it frustrated me. I was not where I wanted to be careerwise and I was not satisfied with my lifestyle. I figured that if the planning did not help the way I wanted to, I might as well not plan at all.
Letting go of plans
So that is what I tried. Letting go. I did something I would have never dared before. I went to couchsurfing.com and asked a bunch of total strangers who could take us in for a week. And someone answered yes. He lived 70 km from where the wedding would take place. Oh well, we would figure it out.
And we did. We had a blast together and he even gave us the key to his house when he went to work. I had put my trust in a complete stranger and he proved to me that I could. Byebye travel guides! He took us around the island showing us places, meeting people and eating local food we would have never come in touch with otherwise. It was a real game-changer for me.
Letting go of plans takes effort when you are not used to it. It can be downright scary. And what does it even mean; letting go?
Why we do not want to let go
Let us look at it the other way around. Why do we want to hold on? Why do we want to plan ahead instead of just going with the flow?
For many, it is fear. Fear of the unknown. What will happen? Are we prepared? What if it is not what we expected? What if, instead of gaining something new, we lose something we had?
I think it has everything to do with acceptance. Accept what is, no judgment. Accept the status quo and just keep going from there. If we take acting directly upon our emotions out of the equation, suddenly there is space in our minds for so much more. Mental space to handle whatever comes at us, giving us a new or clearer perspective on things. A new angle, more positivity. Or just the tiniest break. Time to breathe in and out, and think this over. Maybe even appreciation for what is.
Some of the best things happened to me in moments when plans had changed completely. For example: as I write this, I live in Auckland for an entire month due to a pandemic. As a traveler in dire need of a place to call home and go into self-isolation, I had no time to plan anything and now find myself living with 5 amazing human beings that I would never have met without these circumstances.
You cannot control everything
You can prepare for some things, but you cannot control life itself. Life is, indeed, what happens while we are busy making other plans… So let it go, go out there, go experience. It is okay to doubt or to worry. Just go, try or take a step back and observe. Let go of something every day and you will find your life will instantly improve.
Good luck and enjoy the results!