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Your Big Plans Then VS. Your Small Plans Now

Remember back in the day when it seemed like you and your friends walked around with a fire inside that no one could put out?

My friends and I had big plans and our arms were wide open to embrace them. When we graduated college with a degree, which while it seems to mean less and less these days, we were damn proud of it. A new chapter in our lives was beginning, and it only made sense that it would read with optimism, bring results, and lead to exciting cliff-hangers.

Lately, that fire has been dieing out. Some of us have stopped being the authors of our own books, and seem to be letting another narrator decide how the pages will be written.

It’s not lack of motivation or laziness. It’s just to many people the whole idea that life would be filled with sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll is fading away. Suddenly, life is about making choices in which no options are favorable. It has become why we can’t do this because of that or why that won’t happen because of this.

Remember When?

Remember when you were 18? Those were the days we used to routinely sit around in each other’s living rooms and have wide-eyed talks about life and our views and our dreams.

We would say things like, “I want to travel the world, live in Paris, and volunteer in Africa” or “I want to be a writer and share my stories and ideas with the world and publish books and contribute to the New York Times” or “I want to go to Hollywood and follow in the footsteps of my mentor Stephen Speilberg” or “I want to save the planet by teaching people and businesses how to be Green”.

What we’re saying now is very different than what we said back then.

Now I just hear people saying things like, “Well this job has nothing to do with what I had planned for myself, but it pays okay and the benefits are good” or “I just don’t have the time or money to be unrealistic like that anymore” or “Well my 8th choice as a career path isn’t THAT random I guess…

It Doesn’t Have to be like This

Maybe it’s because I’ve been gone in China this past year and I haven’t seen firsthand how bad things are. But you know what? I don’t really think that’s completely it.

I’m not denying that it’s tough out there. Hell, I’m in the same boat.

But, let me tell you what I think is happening to some of us: Suddenly, it’s much more acceptable to take the easier route. All I hear people talking about is how hard the job search is, how you need to take what you can get, how there are no other options.

And you know why? Going after your Big Plans is hard. And it’s scary. And now so many of us have this great excuse as to why we can’t do it. This lets us avoid something no one enjoys and everyone fears: failure.

Unfortunately, it also leaves us avoiding potential success and accomplishment, and a life that we can design custom for ourselves.

The status quo has literally become an overly acceptable pattern of this.

Keeping Your Big Plans

Look, I’m no perfect example. I’m guilty as charged of making excuses like these. I’m writing this as a message for myself as well.

We don’t have to let that fire die. We don’t have to be constantly stressed. We don’t have to be BLAH all the damn time. We don’t have to give off vibes that scream boredom and confusion.

We can still go after our Big Plans. We just need to be a little more creative in terms of how we go after them. We need to take some bigger leaps that seem far too big. We need to put ourselves out there.

Because it’s definitely not going to be easy. There will be huge challenges. And we will probably get our asses kicked along the way.

It may be that we need to make some sacrifices in other areas of our lives like moving or taking a paycut for a period of time. It may mean that it’ll take longer than we would have hoped. It may mean that people will look at you funny when you tell them what you’re trying to do because they won’t be able to relate.

It may mean a lot of those things, but it will also mean that you’re taking control of your life, who you are, and what you’re about.

Don’t Sacrifice Who You Are

We have to stay true to who we are. You have to stay in touch with yourself. You have to listen to yourself. We all have to stop bitching and avoiding and making excuses. We all need to start doing and believing and changing. We need to start talking about our Big Plans again as if they aren’t just silly, old ideas of the past, but the very thing that we’re moving towards and acting on today.

We need to remember what it’s like to be wide-eyed and excited about life again.

What were your big plans back in the day? Are you still chasing after them? It’s true – a degree isn’t worth as much and income opportunities are more scarce – what creative strategies have you used to create opportunities for yourself?

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About Lauren Rains

Hi my name is Lauren Rains. I write about the human experience. Through thick and thin, I’m dedicated to growth, adventure, integrity, and love. The Mad To Live is based on my pursuits, experiments, research, and lessons of challenge and triumph in all areas of life, including being entrepreneur, a writer, a philosopher, a traveler, a teacher, a student, a creative, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a significant other, a stranger and the list goes on. At the end of the day, I believe human beings are here for two reasons: 1.) to love one another with total acceptance, and 2.) to see what we’re made of as we create the possibilities for an abundant life for ourselves and for others. No more bullshit, let's just enjoy our lives.

Share with me what you're getting into that matters to you. It could be stepping into entrepreneurial pursuits, embarking on a journey of the self, making a crazy life change, or even if you're totally stuck. I want to connect with, support, collaborate with, and learn from as many people as possible through this blog (that means you!) Click the *Share* link in the main menu and let's connect by filling out the form.

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  • carole

    the more challenging and scary something is, the greater the feeling of accomplishment at achieving it. (rafting class III rapids comes to mind.)
    if you want to be proud of yourself, you’ve got to push yourself beyond your comfort zone.

    • Hey Carole!
      Yup, a lot of it is about your comfort zone. Of course, when we were wide-eyed and young, our comfort zone hadn’t been tested as much. Now that we’re older and we’ve seen what happens when we step out of it, it’s a lot easier to step back inside of it.
      But we just have to keep pushing 🙂

  • You make a very good point here Lauren. I was talking to some of my friends from college. Since i had been out of the country for a year and change i felt that now i am behind because all of these friends have full time jobs and are making money but really its just that we are on different paths. It’s not a bad thing to commit yourself to a professorial early its just that I dont see myself laying down now. I have an opportunity to save money and continue on more crazy adventures and journeys which i believe help me grow more or less the same as young people with careers now.

    My best advice: Keep exploring!


  • Some of the best advice I’ve ever given is to KEEP EXPLORING, Mark. 🙂

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  • Jossie

    I think it’s great that you have that ambition to travel for extended periods of time, I know a handful of people moving to China and Russia, and I’m just envious of them (you!) for making it a reality!

    • Hey Jossie!
      I have to say though, I wouldn’t have been able to move to China like that if it weren’t for a special someone cheering me on and pushing me to stretch my limits and do it. And since having done that, I’m much more confident in myself in being to keep doing things like that! 🙂
      It’s wonderful you already have people in your life that have made big moves like heading out to China & Russia long-term. (Russia would be so cold though!!!). They’re the ones that will cheer you on to stretch your limits and do the same 🙂

  • Meg

    I feel like I am finally making my big plans, real plans. Slower then I planned but it’s coming. I think you are right people get stuck in the mud. It’s time to add a little water to that mud and wade ourselves out. I plan to travel the world. If I can get that under my belt I think any other plans I have will be cake to accomplish. Yoga certification- Check. Master’s in Special Ed- Check. Time to student teach and travel the world! Here we go! Great post.