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To plan or not to plan for 2024

A few months ago a friend lamented that he was struggling to work his goals because all his plans blew up in his face the previous 12 months. "I hate to say this, but things going so entirely against how I planned has been traumatizing. And I'm afraid to make any plans because, I'm not sure if it even matters and I don't want to be disappointed anymore."

This was incredibly relatable to me.

At the end of 2016 I felt like I was on top. I published my first book, completed a rigorous certification program in Conversational Intelligence, and reached a new pinnacle of financial success in my business that year.

I had big plans to build upon all of that in 2017. Unfortunately, things happened that I did not anticipate and my plans went sideways. As a result I felt like an utter failure.

At the end of the year, I saw everyone posting their triumphs for 2017 on social media and that only made me feel worse. Not only did I feel like a loser, I also felt so alone and pathetic.

It appeared like everyone else was winning - fulfilling their plans and since I was not I figured there was something wrong with me. I found myself feeling overcome by doubt and insecurity. I wondered forlornly, "why even bother?"

How do you come back from failing to fulfill a plan you deeply believed yourself capable of doing? How do you reclaim a sense of agency when you've lost control over so many facets of your life that you used to feel like a master of? How can you even set plans for the future when you're so consumed by doubt and insecurity that you question everything?

The answer is love. Or more aptly, self-compassion.

The fact is, things happen that severely interrupt people's plans all the time. Until it happens to us, we just don't see that. There are countless disrupters we cannot predict from cancer to divorce, from a global pandemic to an economic downturn, from the death of a loved one to the loss of a job, from a natural disaster to an unanticipated legal dispute.

But here's the cincher. It's not just a matter of what unanticipated thing happened. It's about our capacity, or lack there of, to deal with it.

Gabor Mate says, "Trauma is what happens inside you, not what happens to you."

We've all been weathering the unexpected our entire lives. It's not the thing itself that breaks us, it's the way we are effected by it.

According to the HeartMath Institute, "Resilience is the capacity to prepare for, recover from and adapt in the face of stress, challenge or adversity."

Combine that with the unspoken yet shared expectation that we constantly push ourselves as hard and as far as possible. That staying busy is a badge of honor. That we have to push through the pain to have any gain. And that running on empty is a part of achieving success.

It makes sense that a gross disconnect between the plans we set and the reality we find ourselves facing could be traumatizing. It is perfectly normal to struggle rebounding when that happens. It is totally understandable to experience insecurity, doubt and fear as you pick yourself up and put yourself back together.

Validating your feelings and normalizing your struggle is an important part of practicing self-compassion.

Contrary to the saying, you don't just get back up on the horse. You say, "Wow, that was shocking, I fell off a horse. How's my body feeling? Am I hurt? How do I need to do to care for myself?"

And you do the things to care for yourself before you get back up on that horse!

When life diverges from your plans to the point of feeling traumatized, you might want to prioritize healing and recovery. Your plans might not include all the goals you "should have" according to a podcast you recently listened to, and that's ok.

If the thought of planning or setting goals for 2024 is causing you nausea, please know, you are not alone.

While you might feel apprehensive, you need not avoid the subject entirely. There are ways to approach planning that enable you to connect with your deeper needs in a way that's freeing. There are planning techniques that invite you to gain clarity and focus that's meaningful and uplifting to you.

It starts with giving yourself the time and space to be present to your experiences, to reflect and listen within. From there, it's a matter of accepting that planning is a continuous process. This means incorporating different planning practices into your daily, weekly, monthly routines and beyond.

Such efforts need not be arduous or complicated, although it might feel challenging at times. That's ok, planning is likes a muscle that needs to be used to get stronger.

Don't know where to start? Here's a resource you can check out, it's a blog I published a few years ago about my planning process. It's chocked full of actionable steps you can take on your on.

Want to receive guidance and plan in community? Join me at my 2024 Annual Planning workshop. More information and registration is online.

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