Which of the following is more likely to produce the best outcome -- randomness or organized plans? Or is there something in between that is best? Let's reflect a bit before arriving at any conclusions...
No matter how small or large, think about the greatest moments, events, accomplishments, and milestones in your life. Did you follow a "plan" to reach them or did they just "happen?" Were the best parties you've ever attended, "planned" or did they somehow start spontaneously and turn into something amazing? Were you looking for your career or did it "present itself" to you? Are you currently working in the same field for which you studied in college? What were the circumstances surrounding the first meeting of you and your significant other? Were you "put together" or was the meeting so random that it almost didn't happen?
The investment advisor and financial planner in me sees the value and importance of plans (i.e. budgets, retirement plans, specific goals); however, the philosopher and dreamer in me feels constrained and limited by "boundaries."
"In the cultivation of the mind, our emphasis should be not on concentration, but on attention. Concentration is a process of forcing the mind to narrow down to a point, whereas attention is without frontiers." ~ Krishnamurti
It is quite possible to narrow our attention to the point that we increase the odds of missing those "accidents" in life that are so precious and so few. I must say that it would be foolish of anyone to expect they will reach a destination, such as a financial goal or a life-long dream, without taking at least some organized steps to get there. But, since we all must find our own unique path and life is much more "art" than it is "science," it may be equally foolish to follow an organized "plan," especially for long-term goals -- the most important ones in life -- and expect to reach that destination accordingly. Furthermore, it is quite possible that your ultimate destination will change...
"Plans are worthless. Planning is essential." ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
While planning is important and has the potential to reveal important truths, plans can be misleading. In other words, planning represents "the journey:" It is "dynamic" or changing as we grow; it keeps us moving forward and open to the unknown; and it is "art." A plan represents "a destination:" However, it is "static" or unchanging; it derives only from information which we already know and leaves little or no room for future unknowns; and it is "science."
As you may imagine, I have assembled many financial plans, including those for retirement, cash management, budgets, and specific investment goals, for clients. I have found that the final "plan" is not nearly as valuable as the actual "planning" itself. Just the process of organizing the required data and asking the right questions will often place us on the best path for success while, simultaneously, decreasing the need to refer back to the "written plan" for guidance...
"Too often we are so preoccupied with the destination, we forget the journey." ~ Unknown Author
So, what is this place to be found between randomness and organized plans?
Perhaps we should view the act of planning as the enabler of opportunities -- a dynamic journey that we should seek -- not a static plan that represents one "destination," which may not even be our "ultimate destination."
The act of planning has its worth and, since life "happens," we must keep our eyes and minds open to opportunities that often come along without our knowing it in advance. This way, we "enable" the opportunity simply by the act of planning itself. Planning, which is followed by some form of implementation, must then be followed by monitoring and changing as life changes with it. Conversely, we must take care not to mistakenly "disable" an opportunity by focusing too intently on "sticking with the plan" without amendment...
What do you think?
I would love to hear any "stories" you may have where "plans" were not as successful as "randomness..." Even better, do you have any examples of "enabling opportunities," where you engaged in "planning" but did not specifically follow "an organized plan" to reach an ultimate destination?
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