“Your Plan B is God’s Plan A.”
This quote has been floating around in my head for months. This week I was listening to an interview with Wayne Dyer and he basically said the same thing, that our lives may not turn out the way we expect but that we are living out a plan from the “benevolent source of all things” (I call that God, but whatever peels your banana, you know?). The NPR radio show “This American Life” recently ran an episode called Plan B. According to Ira Glass, most of us are living out Plan B and probably Plan C or even F. As a side note, I believe everything Ira Glass says, without question, because he’s the most ultra-cool, nasal-voiced, sexy nerd that ever graced the airwaves of NPR (and that’s saying a lot, because they hire a lot of guys that make nerdy girls swoon – have you heard Marketplace? That show is like radio porn for Liberal Arts Majors.).
Sorry, I got a little distracted thinking about guys with radio voices and cool eye glasses…if you ever meet my husband, you will totally get why I fell for him. Yum.
Back to the point of this post, one of the hardest things to accept when you have gone through a divorce is that your life didn’t turn out the way you planned. No one plans to get divorced when they get married, and even if you are the person that initiates the divorce, it still wasn’t part of “the plan” and it can feel like you screwed things up. But there are a few things that I try to remember on those days when I’m feeling like my life took a wrong turn at Albuquerque:
1. ”Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness.” — Eckhart Tolle
Maybe you needed a big change to do what you were meant to do in this life. Did Plan A really serve you as well as Plan B? Most people that take the time to work through their issues after a divorce find that they have learned a lot about themselves – about the choices they make and about what motivates them to make those choices. Maybe your Plan A was based on false assumptions, or was driven by motivations that are unhealthy, unrealistic or don’t allow you to fully show up in the world with your true gifts. Plan B (or Plan F for slow learners, like me) may be allowing us to be fully present and authentic in our relationships, our work and in the world, in general.
2. “The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.” –J.M. Barrie
I don’t mean to insult you, but you probably couldn’t have made Plan A work anyway. Let’s be honest, if we start making plans in our teens and twenties – what is the likelihood that those plans are going to work out? Or that the plans you made in your youth are going to match up at all with what you need and desire as a mature adult? I wanted to work in the entertainment industry when I graduated from college and I did. I found it incredibly frustrating. I never wanted to be the “talent” and I quickly figured out that I am terrible at working with the type of personality that is most often attracted to seeking fame – I can’t remember people’s names, I don’t find temper tantrums charming and I’m terrible at noticing who is wearing the coolest clothes, shoes, watch, etc. (the easiest way in the entertainment industry to figure out who is the most important person in the room). In other words, I should not be working in an industry where all of the social cues completely escape me – only the “talent” is allowed to be that clueless and they expect the people working with them to help them with that stuff. What I’m good at is being the calm, logical person in the middle of a flustercluck – this seemed like a good quality to have for the entertainment industry until I figured out that I sucked at all the rest of it. Where else do you need a calm, logical person when everything is falling apart? Yep, this is how I ended up as a divorce attorney. No, that wasn’t my childhood dream. It’s not anybody’s childhood dream, I hope. But so far, it’s working out better than it would have if I had stayed in the entertainment business.
3. “It was amazing how you could get so far from where you’d planned, and yet find it was exactly were you needed to be.” –Sarah Dessen
In my experience, Plan B is way better than what I could have dreamed for myself. If I’m the one trying to make a plan, I limit myself to the known options. Plan B often comes along unexpectedly and with options that I didn’t even know existed. Think about how you imagined your kids would be – before I had them I would have thought I wanted them to be really smart, get straight A’s, become physicists or doctors or some other kind of job that earns a lot of money and requires the math skills I’ve never had. And yet, my smart (probably not future physicists), sweet, hilarious and wildly creative kids turned out completely different (and better) than the children I planned for. The same goes for my second marriage, our house and so many other things I have in my life today.
My imagination limits my plans. Being open to what happens when life veers off the expected path creates opportunity for a life beyond our dreams. And that, my dear one, is what you need to remember about Plan B.