• Stephen A. Johnson

Plan, don't Predict.

This is my most personal blog post yet. I’m personally in a moment of massive transition and have learned to embrace change in new and interesting ways. I just wanted to express some raw, unformulated thoughts about my life in hopes that someone else may benefit.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a maker of lists. I’d write down, in list form, all of my goals, dreams, and desires in life. I learned this from my Mom. As a kid I remember finding little scraps of paper all over the house covered in lists and little notes she’d written. I learned to not throw any of them away unless I first showed them to her.

My lists are somewhat of an extension of me. A me that is not surface or typically shared with others. If you were to find a current list I’ve written you would hold a tangible extension of my inner workings. The marching orders, sort of speak, for my internal engine. In that moment, you’d know me deeply.

But, just as many things have come under scrutiny as part of my embrace of change, my examination of my need to write these lists has shed light on the concepts of success and pain. As you probably were as well, I was taught that successful people have developed the habit of setting and achieving goals. The thing that strikes me in this moment, however, is how we respond to reaching or not reaching these goals, and, how that reaction impacts our quality of life.

By this I mean that most of us celebrate, outwardly and/or inwardly, the accomplishing of goals and assign the term failure when we fall short of accomplishing what we set out to attain. But, interestingly, I don’t think that many of us are able to take a step back and understand that in these instances we are the creators of both our joy and our pain. I am the person who sets the standard by which I then judge my progress and through which I respond to either the accomplishment or the failure.

Now, don’t get it twisted, I believe in winning. I’m not here for the 5th place trophy. I want it all! But, what I am learning is that the goals should be internal rather than external.


Goal: I must be married and own a home by age 30!

Great plan! Good idea. Horrible way to set yourself up for failure in two ways. One, the obvious, what if you don’t achieve these things on this artificial timeline? Two, what if you do achieve it according to plan but you were so focused on obtaining the results that you didn’t pay attention to the quality of your decisions?

Revised goal: I want to learn all I can about myself so that I make a great partner and all I can about real estate so that I make an informed decision.

These goals are internal and process focused. They recognize the inner work that must be done to achieve what you truly want!

The other danger here is something I’ve experienced time and time again:

An inability to truly appreciate success due to the never ending desire to achieve more.

This vicious cycle can feel like winning, look like winning, but correspond with an emptiness that is hard to describe.

While the power of now is undeniably an under-appreciated force that I am coming to value more as I get older, I yet find it difficult to not peek ahead at the life I hope to experience and use that created vision as motivation for my actions and behaviors today.

So how do we balance living in the present when we know that our todays influence tomorrow and that our tomorrows become our future? For me, part of the answer is to focus on value. What value do you bring to your sphere. Does the achievement of your goal and the process toward its manifestation increase your value? If not, let’s call it a desire. For example, I desire to drive a Rolls Royce and have a beach house but my goal is to have integrity in business and to become an expert in my field so that I can help as many people as possible.

I think that the more value you provide the world the more the world will value you.

In short: Plan, don’t predict.

Our goals and desires are important to us but may be shortsighted. Be open to changing plans and you may just find everything you’re looking for along the path you never expected.

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