Instead of telling our young people to plan ahead, we should tell them to plan to be surprised.
-Dan in Real Life


Let’s just get this out in the open, shall we, pets? I am not spontaneous. Yes, I can handle (and even enjoy) temporary bouts of randomness and spontaneity like a last minute weekend trip or a pie in the face.

But, you see, I inherited a genetic condition called Overthinkatosis which causes me to stew over things endlessly, thinking myself in circles for countless sleepless nights. In the past 22  years I have managed to control my condition to the point where I can be adventurous and even occasionally spontaneous. It has taken a great deal of determination and will power. My spontaneity lacks the flare of a natural - you know, those enviable people who can do whatever they want whenever they want without contemplating (or, often, suffering) the consequences? - but it does the job. I can pretty much get what I want for myself as long as it’s a matter of planning and determination, but I suck at the things in life that are left to chance, fate or luck. Which is fine. I have grudgingly accepted that.

The one thing I have never been able to live with is not having a Life Plan. You know, the kind with capitals. Sure, The Plan changes constantly (I used to want to be an engineer, then a teacher, then a photojournalist, etc), but there is always one. When my thoughts start to wander down the figurative path of my life, The Plan keeps me from falling off the edge into a black abyss.


Seriously, that is how important The Plan is to me.

Because I am very determined, The Plan allows me to figure out what I need to do to get where I want to be and to focus on doing it. I write lists of things I think I need to do or experience. I imagine worst case scenarios and sort them out in my mind for a later date. (Yes, it is very tiring being me sometimes…)

The problem is that I no longer have a Plan.

I had one. It got me here. I had no idea what to do after my undergrad, so grad school happened. England happened. That was the Plan.

The mistake? Thinking that somehow things would become clearer here. That once I arrived, there would be signs pointing towards a new Plan. I tried to tell myself not to expect anything and that eventually I would grow and learn and the Plan would become obvious, but in the meantime I would be in England having the time of my life.

Who was I kidding? I need a Plan.

I have spent the last two weeks staying up to all hours of the day, desperately trying to find a job that I will be qualified for in a year. In the UK, in Canada, even in NYC. To Plan for. So I could say “This is what I’m going to do in September.”

But I can’t. Because 1) It’s not September yet and I don’t know if I can get a job until I apply, 2) I just started my degree and 3) I’m at that point in my life where I really just need to see what I can make of my life. Where I’m going to End Up isn’t necessarily where I’m going to be in September and where I am in September might be just a stepping stone. Right?

So, now my question is…. How do I live without a Plan?


  • By Shaun, October 17, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

    You hang around with me more, I have no Plan and I rarely have a plan either…its hard but then I think of the line from Baz Lurmans ‘Everybodys Free to Wear Sunscreen’ - “Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life, the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.”
    By far the best advice a song has ever given me, hope it helps :D

  • By Sebastian, October 18, 2009 @ 3:33 am


    Well, plans are really good to have! They get you from A to B with a minimum of delay and without too much dawdling at C, D, E, F…

    But sometimes fun stuff happens on the way.

    Guess it depends if you enjoy the end-point more than the journey. Personally, I prefer the journey…! It can be a little unnerving, growing old and stuff without any real PLAN but… I figure as long as I try hard, and do my best, I’ll probably have fun and be successful along the way :)

  • By Faebala, October 18, 2009 @ 5:00 am

    “You stress me out with all your Planning-ness,” said the Girl-with-no-Plan, who felt she had been floating aimlessly in the Sea of Life for the past twenty-three years, while those with Plans were passing her on shore, eyes always forward. Don’t look to the side, and don’t look behind. Full speed ahead on the set tracks of the Goal Train.


    Hehe. No, but seriously. Sometimes you do stress me out with all your Planning. And I get stressed out with my severe lack of a Plan. We need to find the happy medium, so you don’t make your first real “spontaneous” a combust, and I don’t wither away unheeded.

  • By Lisa, October 18, 2009 @ 5:54 pm

    Oh wow, I can definitely relate to every single word you wrote! I am still trying to figure out the Plan myself, so I can’t offer you much advice, but I can tell you that you are not alone. I thought that everything would change (in a good way) once I moved here, but of course it didn’t. The journey has been amazing so far but I still can’t say with confidence where I’ll be in a year… Every step along the way will help you in your little journey. Maybe just focus on one thing a time and concentrate on your MA program, and the rest will follow.<3

  • By Kaitlyn, October 19, 2009 @ 4:06 pm

    Ok so here’s what you do:

    1. Return to Ottawa at Christmas.

    2. Go through Wendy’s Drive-Thru with your friend of 2 decades (in 5 years we can say a quarter-century. Which is frightening). Buy a Frosty. And chicken fingers.

    3. Return to one of our homes, pop in my Now and Then DVD, and watch it over delicious ice cream while curled up in piles of blankets.

    4. Repeat.

    See? Now you have a Plan :)

  • By Christine Sweeton *The Chris*, October 19, 2009 @ 5:57 pm

    WHAT! England didn’t bare a big beautiful plan for you? Damn, I thought that is what the UK was for, in general. No point in my visiting now….

  • By Eleni, October 23, 2009 @ 5:09 am

    I know what you mean. Exciting adventures are all well and good, but at some point down the line you’re going to ask yourself, “What did it all mean? What was it all for?” Some people are comfortable with an answer of “Not a damn thing”; others are not. Having a Plan doesn’t guarantee you a better answer to those questions (does anything mean anything?), but it probably helps, and it provides some reassurance along the way that you are headed somewhere and not to a black abyss. Wish I could tell you how to formulate a Plan, but I don’t know!

    Now I’m singing that song from Avenue Q. “Purpose: it’s that little flame that lights a fire under your ass…”

  • By Hezabelle, October 23, 2009 @ 2:14 pm

    Avenue Q is so good at capturing the 20 something life crisis….!

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