Monday, July 25, 2011

Ditch the Plan

Is a nap in your plan?
     I recently spoke with a young man in the process of getting his MBA.  One of the things he had to do as part of his course work was not only to make a 5 year plan, but also a plan for his entire life.  Seriously.

     There are so many things caring for a being at the end of life and hospice work teach us, but one of them is this: ditch the plan and here's why.

     Have you ever heard the joke, "What makes God laugh?"  (Answer: "Your 5 year plan.")  Imagine the hysterics over a life plan?  While it's a joke, there is a lot of truth to it.  A 5 year plan assumes that you know what is coming, that you can predict, that you can make decisions today based what you expect will happen tomorrow, that you can control what is going to happen.  Most people who have lived enough years have had enough bumps in the road to recognize that none of this is true. 

     One of the things humans find hardest when facing their own death or the death of a loved one is the idea that this wasn't in the plan or did not go according to plan.  Really?  Whose plan are you talking about?  There is one thing I know for certain and that is that I have no idea what is going to happen in an hour, tomorrow or next year.  I don't know who is going to cut me off in traffic causing an accident, if I'm going to get a dreaded phone call that someone in my family is injured or ill, or if someone is going to walk into my life and change everything - for better or worse.

     Here's the thing: the joy and fulfillment in life comes not from accomplishing your plan on schedule, but in the unexpected, unpredictable times of spontaneous joy, excitement, opportunity and loveYou simply cannot plan for that.  When you think you are - whether by working so you have money or prestige or by following society's expectations for your life - you are going to find the destination unfulfilling.  When you plan for a future that may never happen one of two things happens: you are disappointed because it never happens the way you planned or because it did happen the way you planned and it isn't nearly so wonderful as you thought it would be.

     Think for a moment.  What are the most special moments in your life?  Did you plan them?

     When caring for the ill, dying and deceased, drop the plan.  Be here, now.  Give yourself permission to wait and see what happens.  To evaluate when the time comes, not plan how you expect things to unfold.  Enjoy the moments, no matter how brief, of joy, love, fulfillment.

      It's scary.  It makes you feel vulnerable.  But it is also so freeing, so exciting, and such a relief that it is more than worth it.  Do yourself a favor, relieve yourself of the burden of having to plan out the next week, the next year or your entire lifetime.  Ditch the plan and I promise, you will be happier in general and also more able to care for your animal in his or her time, truly experiencing the moments, good and bad, as they come.

No comments:

Post a Comment