A reader asks, “How do I put my life plan into action?”

Michael’s response:

There’s an old Yiddish proverb that says “Man Plans and God Laughs.” Making a plan for life can be very valuable, if we’re careful to define what we mean by “planning.” If we mean that we will be a vice president at 27.3 years of age and have $109,472.10 in the bank before we’re 30, count on hearing lots of laughter from the heavens.

It can happen, of course, and you’ll be sure to hear about it from everyone whose plans come to pass. You’ll hear much less from the millions more whose plans weren’t realized.

Since we are human, none of us is really good enough to anticipate all the issues and roadblocks that will arise in life. However, we can come up with a life plan that incorporates values, perceptions and responses, enabling us to implement our plan consistently in the face of unpredictable developments.

We can develop a life plan, or response mechanism, that emphasizes living in the moment or making the best of things. We can consistently implement a plan to do a good deed every day, even if we cannot predict when and how this bit of altruism will occur. In fact, we set ourselves up for disappointment and failure when we try to plan the way things will turn out, rather than the way we will respond to events. We have more control over our responses than we do over events, which means we can actually have more influence on our future by planning our approach to life than by planning the results.

Happily, this response-oriented planning can actually yield better results. At the least, we end up feeling better about the results, simply because we respond in the right way–according to our plan.

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