“Life is what happens to you while..."
“Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans”
The quote above is often used to encourage us to slow down, smell the roses and to spend ‘quality time’ with our family and friends. The quote is actually not a quote at all but a line from of John Lennon’s songs “ Beautiful Boy.” In the song Lennon points out that many of us would like to have a peaceful life and be mindful enough to appreciate the present. Yet he contends that we can’t help but make plans so that we feel secure. He doesn’t say that we shouldn’t make plans; rather he says that the true experience of being alive is beyond any plan as life simply happens.
In today’s busy world strategic plans, growth plans, personal plans, professional mentoring plans and so on are all seen as essential for success or happiness. Similarly, without recognising it, we can force our kids into planning before they are ready to make any significant decisions about their future. This happens very innocently when we ask what they want to do when they grow up, what subjects they will need to select, what ATAR they will require, what university degree they are going to study and so it goes on. Simple questions can begin a mental process that can be both premature and cause stress.
There are many stories about planning but one that recently caught my eye was that if you set out on the ocean to sail, but you don’t know where you are sailing to, how will you know when you get there? The point of the story is that without direction people might endlessly drift through life. I prefer the approach of the analogy of putting the boat out to sea, raising the sails and being prepared for where the wind might take us. Is this planning? Perhaps not, but it is being open to opportunity without sticking to a rigid plan.
So what is the take out message as far as your daughters are concerned? The first is that life is what happens despite the best laid plans. There are so many opportunities that will be open to your daughters that they will be amazed by the possibilities. Similarly there will be challenges that they will need to manage. However, life is a journey and we need to be able to build in our girls the resilience and the confidence and the openness to experience all that life offers. In a similar way we need to ensure that our daughters do not commit themselves too quickly to a path that might ultimately lead to disappointment or unhappiness. While there is certainly a time and place to make plans, we need to be sure that we are also remaining open to new opportunities.
Have a great week.
Dr Frank Pitt
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