What determines whether we’re thriving or simply living, is whether we’re dreaming or just planning.
I still remember quite vividly my childhood dream of becoming a published writer.
I must have been around 7 or 8 years old when I started to write my first book. It was called “The Life of a Lemon”.
I wrote down the adventures of this little yellow fruit in a small-squared notebook and embellished it with colourful drawings.
I really loved the end result and was convinced the world would do the same.
After finishing my masterpiece, I was ready to have it published.
So I looked up the address of a print shop in our local telephone book, gathered all my courage and my piece of art, and rode my bike to the address.
Once there, I quickly slipped my notebook in their mailbox and cycled home as fast as humanly possible.
I was convinced the printer would immediately become aware of the literary masterpiece he had found in the mail and would publish it without delay. And within a couple of weeks I would see my book in the window of our local bookstore and it would be an overwhelming success.
Well, you might have guessed, no such thing happened. My lemon never made it to the book shelves.
But funny enough, I cannot recall being disappointed. At all!
The only thing I remember, to this day, is this immense joy and pride of having realized my dream of writing a book.
I also remember quite vividly a time in my life where it was all about having plans. That must have been around 20 years after my unpublished bestseller.
Having plans for my career, having plans for my personal life, and seeing how those plans turned into reality over time. Or not.
But strangely enough, none of those plans has had the same long-lasting and memorable effect on me as my unpublished book.
Because becoming a writer had been a dream.
I didn’t even care if it was published or not. This dream existed for its own sake. And made me happy regardless of the outcome.
And that’s the difference to having a plan.
We do care if a plan works out, or not.
We do plan in order to achieve a specific result.
And we do make our happiness dependent on it’s outcome.
In other words, planning makes our happiness conditional.
It took me a while to realize that solely relying on planning had robbed me from experiencing unconditional joy.
And it took me a while to realize that only I could turn this around.
By starting to have dreams again.
By aspiring to something that might seem totally out of my reach.
And by pursuing things that bring me joy, regardless of the outcome.
And there it was. The secret of a thriving life. In a childishly simple formula: