Five-Year Plans

In senior year of high school I took a (world?) history class with a professor named Dr. Schmidt.  I don't remember what the class was called, or, really, a ton about the content in general.  Dr. Schmidt was sweet, but a little drone-y and I had a difficult time maintaining alertness, but I tried.

To Dr. Schmidt's credit, ten years later, I still remember him talking about Mao and his famous (infamous?) five-year plans for China.

Now, senior year of high school is a point in life where everybody and their brother thinks they have a right, no, a need, to ask you what your life plan is.  And saying that you didn't know is simply unacceptable.

As a high-schooler this enraged me.

I was 18 years old, barely old enough to vote, not even old enough to drink, and everybody from Great Aunt Linda to my favorite cashier at Publix wanted to ask me what my plan was.

And every time someone asked me to describe in detail this epic plan that they just knew I had for myself all I could think about was Dr. Schmidt and Mao and Mao's five-year plans.

And from what I remember Dr. Schmidt saying, both of Mao's five-year plans were epic and innovative and ambitious and far-reaching with effects that would last for hundreds of years.

The people asking me for my plans wanted me to have plans like Mao's.

I didn't.

And that distressed them.

The part that still makes me chuckle when people ask me my plans, even now, a decade later, is how the only epic part of both of Mao's five-year plans was how epic-ly they failed.

Having a plan is all well and good.  But it's okay if you don't.  And it's okay if your plans all go belly-up.  You'll make new plans.  Or you won't and you'll wing it.

But it really is going to be okay.

Because the thing that plans don't take into account is all the stuff you don't control.  Which, frankly, is most of the stuff.

And if you only cling to the failed plan, who knows how many amazing/weird/awesome new stuff you're gonna miss.

Five years ago I would have never guessed I'd be where I am today.  But where I am today is pretty great.

Think back to where you were in your life five years ago.

Would you have ever pictured yourself where you are now?

If so, good for you- you're a hell of a better planner than me or Mao.

But if not, Welcome to the Club.  

It's nice here.  We have surprises.


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