They say that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
It’s a colorful way of pointing out that plans don’t always go how we want them to. Life is uncertain; sometimes, even the best-formulated plans can fall apart.
On the other hand, we all have a way we want our lives to go. And living with intention, even if all your dreams don’t come true, is one of the keys to a happy life.
But do you find that none of your plans are coming true? Are you still a million miles away from where you want to be?
If so, the first thing to do might be to look inward and see if it isn’t your own behavior that is sabotaging your plans.
Keep an eye out for these behaviors that might be keeping you from the life you want. Because often, the biggest obstacle standing in the way of your plans is you.
1) Getting discouraged
Yeah, I know. This is easier said than done. Especially if things don’t go your way.
But often, the first step to making your dreams a reality is to believe in their possibility.
Unfortunately, the bigger the dream, the easier it is to get discouraged.
Any big change in your life is going to require a lot from you. Getting your life on track and heading in the direction you want can take a monumental effort. And often, the things you want to achieve aren’t even in your control.
We all encounter setbacks. But the difference between those who live the lives they want and those who don’t is that dreamers never give up.
In the end, life is a marathon, not a sprint. Maybe you aren’t where you wanted to be at this stage of your life, but that’s okay. It’s the end result that matters.
If you do start to feel yourself becoming discouraged, here are a few tactics you can use to get back into a positive mindset:
- Name your feelings. Pay attention to what you feel and do your best to examine the emotions. Are you mad at yourself? Are you mad at other people? Are you depressed? Are you apathetic?
- Reframe the situation. Naming your feelings allows you to disentangle them from what’s actually happening. Often, things aren’t as bad as they seem once you take your emotion out of it. Reframing what’s going on lets you think objectively and create a new plan to overcome your challenges.
- Focus on solutions. When you leave aside emotion, you’ll be better placed to create solutions to your difficulties.
- Accept the things you can’t change. Not everything in life can be fixed. Some problems simply have to be dealt with. Learning to accept what is in your power to change and what is not can help you find peace even in difficult times.
- Move on. We all get discouraged, and when that happens, taking a little time for self-care can be helpful. But it’s important not to wallow. Take the time to deal with your feelings, then move on, either in pursuit of the same plan or a different one.
2) Being a perfectionist
There’s nothing wrong with having high standards. But it’s also important to remember that life isn’t perfect, and neither are you.
Not having a plan can lead to a directionless and unintentional life. But planning everything too rigorously, and obsessing over the results, can lead to just as much unhappiness, if not more.
In my own experience, I’ve done some things I always dreamed about. I became a professional writer. I’ve traveled the world. And while I wouldn’t change those experiences for anything, I often found that the things I dreamed of looked very different once I achieved them.
You need to have an idea in your head of what it will look like when you achieve your dreams. But even when you get there, remember that it may not be what you thought it would be.
You could be standing at the top of the mountain enjoying the most beautiful view ever with the person you love by your side, but you may also have a toothache, a blister, or a big hole in your bank account.
Nothing is ever perfect. You may only achieve some of what you planned. Or you may achieve all of it, only to find out it wasn’t what you really wanted. Be flexible and accept that nothing is perfect, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful.
3) Forgetting to be present
I’m guilty of this one myself.
If you’re someone who plans, there’s a very real danger that you can get too focused on the future.
The thing is, the future never arrives. Because when tomorrow gets here, it will be today. The present is the only time in which you can be happy, so if you ignore it in favor of the future, you’ll never be happy.
Make plans and follow your dreams. But also make time to enjoy what you have and where you are now.
Otherwise, your life can flash past while you pay attention to other things.
4) Negative self-talk
We can be our own harshest critics. But if you feel like you’re falling behind in life and not getting what you want, don’t give in to the temptation to think it reflects badly on you as a person.
Even the people who seem to have everything still have problems. And just because a plan doesn’t work out doesn’t mean it’s your fault.
Take responsibility for what’s in your control, but don’t blame yourself for things you can’t control. And don’t tell yourself that you’re stupid, weak, lazy, or some other negative term to explain what you perceive as failure.
Chasing your dreams is a long road, and you need to be your own best friend.
5) Expecting too much of people
Often, our plans rely on other people. And really, it wouldn’t be much of a life if we could only enjoy it by ourselves.
But don’t lose sight of the fact that everybody is their own individual, with their own hopes and dreams that may or may not connect with yours.
People can be wonderful. They can help you in so many ways as you pursue your goals. But remember that, just like you, they have their own weaknesses, flaws, and failings.
Sooner or later, people will let you down. Be as kind to them as you should be to yourself, and remember, we’re all fallible humans doing the best that we can.
6) Telling yourself you don’t deserve it
Sometimes, when things don’t go our way, we look for reasons. And often, the easiest person to blame is ourselves.
If your attempts to build the life you want keep meeting with failure, it’s tempting to think it’s your fault. In fact, sometimes, it is.
But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that means you don’t deserve it.
Here’s the thing: as much as we sometimes like to pretend otherwise, life isn’t about what you do and don’t deserve. It’s about what you do to get what you need.
One of the biggest obstacles that stands between most people and their plans is procrastination.
It’s not hard to see why. Often, the scale of our dreams and our own potential scares us.
Plus, we are hardwired to be afraid of the unknown. Attempting anything is a leap into the dark, and staying where you are doing what you’ve always done seems easier. At least that way, you know what will happen.
But procrastination, or putting things off until later, is one of the biggest obstacles to building the life you want.
Don’t wait. Start today. If there’s something you really want to do, there will never be a better time to begin than now.
8) Comparing yourself to others
I’m not talking about inspiration. People we admire can inspire us to be better and to pursue our own goals. Our heroes can show us how to get where we want to be.
On the other hand, it’s important not to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others.
You aren’t them. You don’t have access to their resources, connections, or even simple good luck that put them where they are.
You’re you. That’s the only person you should be comparing yourself to.
Don’t forget to live
Look, I get it. I’m a chronic planner myself. And it’s been a positive force in my life, allowing me to achieve a lot of things that once seemed impossible.
You can build the life you want, even now. Even when it seems everything is against you.
But you may need to give up some of these destructive behaviors first. And when you do, you may find that your plans start falling into place a whole lot easier.