Someone once told me they didn’t want to go after their dream because they were afraid of a self-imposed expectation. They didn’t want to create the assumption that they should be making a change. They didn’t want to face that kind of intense pressure from themselves or others.
What this person really wants is a life aligned with personal value. It is not an expectation. There is a difference between personal value and expectation. An expectation is metric, it is performance driven, whereas personal value is what is important to us. Personal values are the things near and dear to our hearts.
They are part of who we are. For example, say you knew someone battling with breast cancer and breast cancer awareness has become an important issue for you. It has become part of your personal values. You can participate in a breast cancer fundraiser, and even set a goal to raise a certain amount. You don’t need to set this as an expectation and kick yourself if you don’t meet the goal. You are not expected to cure breast cancer. You value the cause. It is an important and deeply personal part of your life.
Everyone has a personal value and aligning your life with that value helps you to feel “alive” and to motivate you to do certain things. Maybe your personal value is physical fitness. You value your health and well being so you decide to walk to the store, you are not setting the expectation that you will run a marathon.
What are some of your personal values?
We get asked by our college professors, potential and current employers, our parents, our mentors—what is your five-year plan? You are encouraged to write it down. Put it on paper. Stick to it. The reality is, you need to learn to let go of that plan.
Don’t get me wrong, it is important to have goals, plans, and dreams you want to accomplish. You can choose to write up an outline of sorts but don’t get too attached.
We change. Life changes. Things happen that we don’t expect. That is the beauty in uncertainty. You never truly know where the road will take you. Events that happen to us shape us as people. Things we learn over time change our way of thinking. Our experiences create deep roots inside our souls, and the people we thought we would become no longer seems as fitting.
We fall in love, we have children, we move for careers, maybe you end up in a place you didn’t originally plan. The course changes. There is no need to be a perfectionist about the plan. It is ok to deviate, to take another road. We can get so stressed, so exhausted trying to keep things lined up with the plan. But what is the real purpose of that plan?
You made it to keep yourself focused. To help achieve success and happiness. If those things come a different way than expected, that is ok. I say it all the time, you have the key to happiness inside of you. By letting yourself get so attached and worked up over the plan, you are denying yourself the happiness to enjoy where you are and how far you have come and where you might go if you embrace change.
Change is good. It is growth. It is learning. It is having an open mind. It is going with the flow.
How has your five-year plan changed over time?