I called a friend this morning to give him some life advice: It’s ok to change your plans. He suggested I write a blog about it… so here we are!
I explained that I used to be someone who made plans, committed to them, and had to complete that plan no matter what. Whether it was committing to a relationship or booking a holiday, I always wanted to see that plan through to the end. There was no alternative. And if I couldn’t make that plan happen, it led to a lot of heartache, pain and internal conflict. Because for me, the plan I’d committed to was the only way.
There were a couple of big things I’d committed to that I really struggled with. One was a relationship where I found out he cheated but I felt I couldn’t leave. The other was a job that didn’t play out as I had intended. When I did eventually leave both of these things, I felt like I had failed because, despite my effort, I did not complete what I had committed to.
What I learned (the hard way) is that sometimes you can’t control everything. Sometimes circumstances change or you discover new information and that it is, in fact, OK to change your plan to something different. That’s not failure, that’s being flexible. You don’t have to stick to your original plan.
Before I went to Costa Rica, I spoke to a friend who’d lived in Colombia for some months. She shared some of her experiences with me, including how she pre-paid to live in a shared house for two months. When she got there, she absolutely hated it. She hated the house and the people in it, but didn’t want to leave and lose her money. She begrudgingly stuck it out. She said she realised now that she should have just accepted the loss of money so she could find somewhere else to stay where she would have been happier. Staying in a situation she’d committed to but wasn’t happy in wasn’t worth it. Her advice to me before I moved to Costa Rica? If you don’t like it, change it.
I did remember her advice in Costa Rica. I had originally planned to stay for a year or more, but I just didn’t like it (San Jose) as much as I thought I would. I do remember reviewing my options after six months and realising that I could stick it out for a year or move on. I thought about my friend’s advice and decided I would be happier if I left. So I did.
How I wish I could have thought about life in such simple terms when I was stuck in my relationship or that job. I didn’t have to stay. I could have just changed my plan. And not beaten myself up about it. We always have a choice in life, and staying in a situation that you’re not happy with is also a choice you have made.
Nowadays, I still make plans and commitments, but I know in my heart that it may or may not work out as I planned and I am open to changing my plans if I need to. Knowing this from the outset makes it so much easier to handle unexpected obstacles and circumstances as they come up.
A book that I found useful and relevant to this topic is the Untethered Soul by Michael Singer. A great read that I recommend for everyone: