Wouldn’t it be great if we had a carefully crafted roadmap to our success, and all we had to do was execute the plan to make all of our dreams come true? Consider the person who has her life all carefully planned out. She knows exactly how much money she needs to earn each year to be able to retire when she wants to. She has carefully detailed the steps she needs to take to reach her goals. And she claims to be very happy with her plan. That’s what all of us want. We want a roadmap to success. We want a carefully constructed personal plan that won’t fail if only we execute it exactly.
Recently the person described above was asked where her hobby fit into her plan. She has this incredible hobby that brings her lots of joy, and she can monetize the results, but it isn’t part of her carefully thought out plan, other than as a side hobby to explore in her spare time. When asked specifically how she was going to incorporate her hobby into her retirement plan, she got quite angry. She didn’t raise her voice or say hurtful things, but you could hear the shift in her voice, the slight change of pitch as she restated that her plan is perfect, exact, and on track, and she didn’t need to change anything about it, she just needed to follow her plan.
That little trigger of anger is an example of the red flag to which we all need to be alert. That little twinge of anger we feel when someone questions our plans or actions is a sign that something isn’t quite right. It doesn’t mean that our plan or action is wrong, but it can signal that it isn’t true to our highest values and objectives. Often we do what we think is right, because it’s the right thing to do, and in so doing, we deny what we really want to do, what really matters most to us, what we truly value. To be successful, to live a life of which we are proud, a life that is satisfying and fulfilling, we have to be in tune with the triggers that make us angry, or stir other emotions in us, when we share our plan with those who know us best.
To live the life you’ve always dreamed of, go ahead and create your master plan. Think it through, write it down, map it out, and share it with a friend. Then pay close attention to your emotional responses, and as you discuss your plan, make a note of anything that triggers emotion in you. Those emotional triggers are like red ink on a graded term paper. They point you to areas where you might benefit from taking a closer look. The planner in our example wants to be sure she is financially ready for retirement; an objective greatly admired. Planning for retirement is something all of us need to do, and the earlier in life we start planning, the better off we are in the end. When we have too much month left at the end of the money, it affects our sense of well-being, and jeopardizes our health both physically and spiritually. But other things can also jeopardize our health, and sacrificing what we value most may be too high a price to pay in the end. Pay attention to your emotions, and let them guide you to creating the life you truly want.