Why you should abandon your life plan, according to experts




Focus
on today.


Strelka/Flickr



  • Five-year plans
    and punishing morning routines are often
    perceived as being integral parts of the path to success.
  • But the obsession over a perfect life can distract us
    from appreciating our days as they really are.
  • A variety of experts and writers suggest appreciating the
    present as it is.

 

Essayist
Charles Chu’s
 former idea of a perfect life was
recognizable to anyone who has been 22 and idealistic. Travel the
world. Become a millionaire entrepreneur. Universally charm the
opposite sex before marrying a PhD who equally adores literature
and math. 

It was his “Eight-Year Plan,” and the answer to his present
dissatisfaction and social isolation. 


In a piece for The Polymath Project
, Chu outlines why that
plan was so misguided — and why he ultimately scrapped all of it.

Life can’t be controlled

Many of us try to create perfect daily routines in addition to
planning for the next decade or more of our lives. That can
involve trying to copy the likes of
Richard Branson
and
Jeff Bezos
 to incorporate some of their successes into
our own lives.

But, as
Chu wrote, “

Life is always more out of our control
than we would like it to be.” It’s rarely possible to succeed at
aligning real life with a 5 a.m. wake-up, meditation, and
exercise session. 

Plenty of folks are moving away from obsessing over the
perfect morning routine or life plan. Productivity and time
management expert
Laura
Vanderkam
 doesn’t have
a morning routine
, for instance. 

Vanderkam does journal and exercise each day, but rarely at the
same time. Part of the reason: People get so caught up in having
the perfect routine that, if they miss even a small part of it,
they’ll just give up on the whole plan. 

Whether
we’re trying to succeed at something as small as 9 p.m. bedtime
or as big as becoming a globetrotter, it can be challenging — and
isolating. Chu
wrote
:

When I was most-obsessed with my Eight-Year Plan, I was
tyrannical, self-hating, and not so fun to be
around.
Friends and girlfriends were to be “liquidated”
if not useful for personal growth. Time not spent productively
was a failure of willpower or planning. I rarely took any days
off and — when I did — I did it because taking time off would
help me come back later and work harder.

I tried to compress all sides of myself to a single, sharp and
focused point. But over-focusing also means tunnel-vision, and
tunnel-vision means that much of the picture gets left out.

“Why,” a girlfriend once asked me, “do you never stop and
look up at the sky?”

Focusing
on building the perfect life can detract from the beauty of
today

Instead
of obsessing over the perfect life, we should appreciate the
present as it is.

A truly
perfect life “

is something that can only exist in
imagination — or, in my case, always somewhere five-to-eight
years in the future,” Chu
wrote

By obsessing over something that can’t exist, we
miss out on what we could enjoy today. 

The
current productivity ethos of designing our ideal selves through
crushing morning routines and lofty plans doesn’t help us
appreciate the current moment. 


The perfect life is always just around the corner
but, if you stop for long enough and breathe, you may find that
the minimally-decent life is here already, just under your feet,”
Chu
wrote
.

Focusing
on the present is a skill that can be cultivated. One key way is
by meditating, which forces us to be cognizant of our current
moment. “Happiness is predicated on being aware,” host
of “The One You Feed”
podcast Eric Zimmer previously
told
Business Insider. “It’s important to start training that
muscle.”


Read the entire essay in The Polymath Project
here

Read Origianl Post Here