How to Move Forward When Planning Isn’t an Option

There might be times in your life, when planning your next career or life steps seems as realistic as planning an expedition to Mars. 

Times, after a break-up, a burnout, after the loss of a job or a radical change in our lifestyle, when the only clarity you have, is about those things you no longer want. Or no longer have. But these insights are not really the best building blocks for planning your way forward, right?

So how do you keep going, when planning simply doesn’t work?

Well, you heard me say this many times before, but the answer is as simple as this: When planning is no longer an option, start designing!

So here are three important Life-Designing-Principles, that’ll help you keep your sanity, in times where uncertainty, confusion, and procrastination are gaining the upper hand in your life. And support you in moving forward again.

# 1 Allow your answers to emerge over time

The first important step in designing your way forward instead of planning it, is to free yourself from this limiting belief, you need to have all the answers in place before you can take action.

As a Life Designer, you will not start your journey with knowing all the answers, on the contrary, having ready-made answers will only limit you in your creative freedom and will narrow down your options.  You’ll start your journey with (finally) allowing yourself the right questions.

Those questions you carefully tried to avoid, because you were afraid they might scratch at the foundation of your textbook career, or life. Those questions that are nevertheless essential to ask in order to design a truly authentic and fulfilling life.

Questions like, “How do I really want to work? What values, what interests, what activities need to be present, both professionally and in my personal life? How do I want to feel at work? How do I want to feel in a relationship? What, of all this, is already present in my life? And what is missing?

When it comes to gaining clarity, the first look should never take you into the future, searching for answers. The first look should always take you deeper, right here and now, exploring in depth the right questions and what is truly going on in your life. And where the changes truly need to begin. And this exploration is something you can start as of today.

# 2 There’s more than one way to happiness

What often keeps us stuck in unwanted situations, unable to move forward, is the fear of making the wrong choice. The fear of missing our one and only chance for happiness. 

As a Life Designer however, we approach things differently. Life Designers master uncertainty and change with greater ease and confidence because they always approach new projects or life ventures with the attitude, that there’s more than one path to success and happiness.

Maybe right now it’s your fear of missing out on creating a family life, which is keeping you in a fear-based pattern around making choices, or rather not making choices.

Start by digging deeper, when it comes to this dream and wish. Start to look at the essence of this wish, what you truly want to bring into your life. Is it the sense of belonging, of mutual caring, of sharing love and receiving love? What are the deeper needs and wishes around what you currently desire for yourself? Once you find more clarity, and more depth, you’ll see that there are many different ways how you can deepen and experience what you wish for.

Challenge your concept of a traditional family life, challenge your beliefs, how to experience a sense of belonging and caring for each other. Just because we grew up with certain examples or role models doesn’t mean that’s the only way it’s supposed to be.

Be courageous and open minded, there isn’t just one masterplan how things are supposed to work out, and if you miss it, game over!  

No, there are endless possibilities when it comes to designing a truly fulfilling life. Your job is simply to remain open, especially when things work out differently than planned. 

# 3 Clarity Only Comes from Engagement

This is a major point for all of us, who are chronic over-thinkers! Those of us who believe, that clarity only happens through in depth reflection and careful evaluation. Those who procrastinate and postpone their dreams, week after week, month after month, because they haven’t gained sufficient clarity yet. 

(Truth be told, I also suffered from chronic over-thinking for many years, and boy, did this contribute to my procrastination) 

Life Designers however, firmly believe that clarity only comes from real life experience, not thinking. So they try things out, as fast and as unbiased as possible.

Dreaming and contemplating about giving up your corporate career and making a living as a food or travel blogger is one thing. Trying out, how it would be to constantly create new content, relentlessly grow your following, and constantly acquiring new partners and sponsors is a completely different story.

So how can you do it, gaining clarity from taking action? 

The easiest and fastest way is to have an open and truthful conversation with someone who is a few steps ahead of you, and your dream. Someone who’s willing to talk about the less glamorous aspects, the challenges, and even the setbacks. Someone who’s also willing to share their source of inspiration and motivation. Yes, clarity even can come in form of a second-hand experience, if someone’s willing to share with you the big, authentic picture, and not just the Instagram-version of it.

Another option is to design and test out a mini version of your dream. Building up your travel blog on the side and using your next vacation to test-drive this project is always a good idea. How does ist feel, to chase relentlessly after blog-worthy pictures, to create loads and loads of content, and to establish first partnerships and collaborations instead of indulging in La Dolce Vita? How does it really feel to turn your vacation into a living? Or to turn your vocation into a living?

Maybe it’s totally what is driving you, what makes you feel alive. Maybe not. 

This is something only experience will tell you with accuracy. And that’s why you should take action as fast as you can, instead of wasting precious time pondering over something that can’t be figured out by thinking only.  

If you find yourself stuck, lost, and unable to move forward, these three principles should help you gain momentum. Simply let go of the need to plan, and open yourself up for the possibilities to design. Then, things will start to flow again, faster than you think.

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