How are your New Year’s Resolutions going?
I bought myself a beautiful planner for 2020 and it’s largely empty except for a few callback reminders, which to be honest, is usually the case. I buy a ridiculously expensive planner every year. I love looking at them and owning them, I just don’t actually use them.
It dawned on me a few years ago that planning ahead was a waste of time.
For practical things like appointments and reminders and organizing, it works. But for the big-ticket items like laying out the direction of my life over the coming year – not so much.
I came to think of the relationship between what I planned to have happen and what actually happened, as living in a version of “opposite day”. Opposite day is when everything you do or say turns out to be the opposite.
I first came across it in primary school when I would tell myself and the universe that (for sure) “today the school would be closed” but it never went that way.
Unlike groundhog day when your day is the same every day, I’ve found that my days and weeks and very often my years, would go in the opposite direction of what I intended.
Sure, I could tick some items off my to-do but in terms of feeling like I was controlling the direction of my own ship, definitely not.
Take my career. I intended to work in international relations, I studied it, I was a member of the United Nations Society and I even was running aid programs in Indonesia when I was only 22.
But life had another plan.
At 23 I was elected as my uni’s Student Union President. (I still don’t know how I won against the Pirate Party who were offering free beer Friday’s).
I thought it would be an opportunity to expand my work in Indonesia, but opposite day kicked in.
One day I found myself across the table from the head of the Union for University staff.
It turns out that one of the president’s jobs was to renegotiate the industrial agreement for the student union staff and quite frankly I had no f…ing idea what I supposed to do.
I did what all good 20 something year old’s do – I bluffed, asked a lot of questions to appear smart, nodded my head quite a bit and somehow managed to impress everyone with my natural negotiation skills.
So much so, that when the union official was preparing to take maternity leave, she asked me to fill her role.
I didn’t take her job, but that experience redirected me towards a career in Industrial Relations that lasted over 25 years.
As I get older, I can see this subtle influence throughout my life experiences and instead of fighting against it, I yield to it.
I’ll share another example of what I now call the invisible hand, which is very dear to my heart.
Fast forward from Uni to 1997 and I was at a union rally with about 10,000 others protesting something. There was a photo taken out towards the crowd and although everyone was facing forward, in the photo there were 2 people facing away from the front and towards each other, with about 10 people between them. I was one of them.
A couple of weeks later I reluctantly went for a job interview, I wasn’t really enjoying Brisbane and had planned to go hangout in Byron Bay.
As I walked into the interview, my focus was on where I was going to go for lunch once it was done. But the invisible hand had other plans for me and also for the boss readying to interview me.
Not only was this boss the man looking towards me in the photo, but he would also go on to become my best friend and partner of 20 years.
It really was just like something out of a movie.
I am all for vision boards, Kikki K planners and bucket lists, but I’ve learned that they ought to come with a disclaimer. One that says “Your best-laid plans will most likely change to something far better than you can imagine, so let go of the wheel and enjoy the ride”.
P.S. I’m hosting a FREE webinar called More Joy / Less Stress next Wednesday 22 April at 1 pm. We’ll be practicing 3 fun strategies to regain joy in these “opposite day” times.