Your Plan Sucks
Avoiding lighthouses to find rewards
We’re getting to that time of year when people start thinking about plans/resolutions for the next one. I am no exception. I thought in honor of that I would re-post this piece, which is one of my earlier ones. I’ve picked up plenty of new subscribers since then, so I’m sure many of you haven’t seen it. I hope you enjoy it and it gets you thinking.
I’m here to tell you today: your plan sucks. It’s holding you back.
Okay, okay, nobody likes to be told something they’re invested in sucks. I’ll take a -3 to my Persuasion check here (hello, DnD nerds). All I ask is that you consider the possibility while I explain.
Too often we construct goals in our minds - they shine like distant lighthouses in a storm. We believe they’re giving us direction but in truth, they are the reason we continue to meander in the dark. We’re so fixated on the faraway lighthouse that we fall off the side of the boat focusing on it. We define ourselves by our goals, not realizing they are the things preventing us from embarking on a new path.
I speak from experience.
For most of my twenties, my self-worth and plans were tied up in being a videographer and editor. I worked in local news and that requires one thing above all others: speed. If my editing skills were transferred to gunslinging, I could pick up a Colt 1851 Navy revolver and give Wyatt Earp a run for his money.
Truth is, I fucking hated those jobs. On my way into work, I would make the final turn, and the canopy of the oak trees lining the road would separate, revealing the looming specter of the station’s broadcast tower. On my worst days, the sight of it caused me to scream in rage and frustration.
I can say this with a 100% Accuracy Guarantee: If you want to become a more cynical person, local news is the career move for you.
Always in my mind the broadcast tower was juxtaposed with a lighthouse: starting my own business.
I worked hard at it in my limited spare time. I filmed weddings, corporate events, testimonials - whatever would make me a positive cash flow. Even after I pivoted to a new job that didn’t have me screaming into my car’s steering wheel, I kept trying to jam the square peg into the round hole.
I’ve paid thousands of dollars for several high-quality online business courses over the years. One of them took place during Covid lockdown and had me speaking with a fellow student, a British lady named Heather. We were discussing things we missed during lockdown and I was waxing poetic about how much I enjoyed performing improv comedy. She said something I haven’t forgotten since:
“Having the gift to make people laugh is a special thing. You should lean into that.”
Bass drop, record scratch, bomb explosion.
I wish I could say I recognized the impact of that insight and immediately followed it. Life is messy though, so naturally I paid for another course later that year in a desperate gambit to finally make this business thing work.
Luckily, that statement kept bouncing around inside my mind like a game of Pong. The emotions it provoked in me were real. They weren’t going away. Ever so slowly, I started to live Heather’s lesson. By early 2021, I finally came to a familiar realization:
I thought it would be harder to release the emotional baggage and sunk costs that went into building the business. Truth is, it was effortless. It was freeing. It felt right. My brain was just catching up to where my heart already was.
In the years since, I’ve expanded my comedy repertoire. I now take comedy classes instead of business ones. I’ve experimented with other forms like stand-up. Mostly, I just ignore lighthouses and allow myself to wander whatever path seems promising. Without that shift, I doubt I’d be writing this at all.
Serendipity happened for me on that Zoom call. My comedic pursuits may not go anywhere huge and honestly: I no longer care.
Good news: the same pivot is available to you.
Colonel Sanders didn’t start sprinkling those 11 herbs and spices onto deep fried poultry until he was in his 60’s. Julia Child wrote her first cookbook in her 40’s. Hollywood abounds with previously unknown actors who now grace the cover of People.
It is definitely harder to find your way after turning from the comforting illumination provided by the planning lighthouse. In the end, that’s what makes it so rewarding. Keep your eyes open. You might just stumble upon some serendipity of your own.
I reiterate: your plan sucks. It’s holding you back. You would be freer without it.
You know what doesn’t suck? Subscribing to this newsletter.
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