Lately, I have been thinking about accidental discoveries, also known as Serendipity. For years, I believed in the supreme importance of planning, but I have had to re-examine this in the light of my life experiences.
Although I still believe that planning is important because it enables you to be efficient at the things that lend themselves to planning, I have realized that some of the biggest things in life cannot be planned. Planning seems to be everything you do in the preparation stage, before the actual Happening. And then the Happening shows up and, more often than not, defies your well-laid plans.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that Planning helps to better weather the storms brought on by Happenings–so we shouldn’t altogether throw Planning out the window. However, the mistake I made (or maybe my teachers did) was to believe that Planning eliminates storms; that Planning ensures a neat, tidy, contained Happening. Not so.
Think about it in the context of getting a college degree, for example. You study hard in high school and get into college for a degree in Quantum Physics. Full scholarship. You’ve dreamed for years about becoming a Researcher. You excel at it, but then you can’t find additional funding for graduate studies due to the recession, and you also can’t afford to go into debt.
So you start job hunting and your only callback is from a high school that will hire you to teach Physics. You get into teaching–a profession you had never even considered. In unexpected ways, teaching leads you to Social Work and finally back to college to become a Counselor. You love it even more than Quantum Physics! All your initial planning couldn’t have gotten you here, but Serendipity did.
Don’t stress out over botched plans. Leave yourself open to discovering new possibilities when you find yourself in unexpected circumstances. Possibilities that you couldn’t have dreamed up if you’d tried. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Image: Oliver C. Grüner Photography