You’ve nurtured your plans your entire life. Fed them. Loved them. Taught them how to read.
Then you hit your twenties and your plans run off with a biker gang in the middle of the night, and the last time you hear from them they’re somewhere in Franklin, Kentucky working at the Piggly Wiggly.
Can you relate?
Here are some signs your twenties aren’t going exactly as you planned, and why that actually might be a good thing:
1. You’re living back with your parents. In your old room. And you just came down on a Saturday morning to see, strangely enough, a list of chores stuck on the kitchen cabinet with YOUR NAME on it.
And just like that, you’re 15 again.
At least take solace that there’s now a record-high 21 million other twentysomethings living at home in the United States alone. Millions of twentysomethings are posting amazing pictures of their lives on Instagram, then going back to their bedroom with their plane and train bedspread. They just don’t exactly take a picture of that.
2. You’re working a crappy job you don’t want, in a field that you didn’t know existed, and are pretty sure every day working there cuts five days off of your life expectancy.
3. You’re a fully committed, full profile, full throttle Internet dater. Under an alias, of course. Just in case Google decides to tell the world. Not that Internet dating is bad, of course. You’d just not exactly posting the play-by-play on Facebook quite yet.
4. You would gladly accept a non-paying internship in a good company, but you can’t even get hired to work for someone for free because:
A. There are 553 applications to be given the grand opportunity to be paid nothing.
B. You have to be in college to get hired for it. So you enroll in The History of the Forrest at your local community college so you can check the box—Yes, I’m still a college student.
5. You’re driving the same Honda or Toyota you’ve had since high school—220,000 miles later. Granted, there’s no air conditioning, right mirror, power steering and the back seats are filled with an assortment of fast-food wrappers, clothes, a Halloween costume, a 64 pack of Mountain Dew and a small family of raccoons. Yet, it still runs, so you keep driving it. And the raccoons seem content. (I might have just fully described to you my 1993 Honda Civic Hatchback. No jokes here).
6. Every night, you swear you’re going to do something productive. Work on that resume, hammer out that business plan, novel, website… but dang it, they just put Gilmore Girls on Netflix …
7. The only thing you’ve figured out in your twenties is everything you DON’T want to do.
Why Things Not Going as Planned is a Good Thing
It doesn’t exactly feel like a good thing when you’re sitting there watching your plans go up in flames like a brush fire.
Yet, luckily God has a knack for speaking to us through firey shrubbery.
As I write about in my soon-to-be-released book All Groan Up: Searching for Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!:
Let’s be honest—we never really had a plan in the first place. Or at least, not a good one.
Our plan didn’t involve any setbacks, wrong turns, dead-ends, or failure. Of course not. Who plans for suffering?
We had a dream of making a difference or braggable amounts of money, but we didn’t have this strategic plan on how we were going to get there. Amazing was just going to kind of happen.
But when your plans don’t go as planned, it forces you, kicking and screaming, to find a better plan. We can’t have a good story without a good struggle.
God can’t forge in us the resiliency, strength and character needed to be a conduit for His redemption if we’ve never needed anything redeemed.
We want to make a difference. We want to change the world. But when I look at the Bible, I see a meta-narrative that goes something like this: the bigger the promise spoken over someone, the more intense their path is to get there.
David was told he was going to be king. Then next thing you know, he’s the harp boy and his boss is trying to pin him to a wall with a spear. Talk about a bad day at the office. Soon, David was hiding in caves as an outlaw, wondering who was crazier—Saul, or God, for speaking such a big promise over him and then leading him into the desert.
Moses is going to lead his people out of slavery, then he’s exiled into the desert.
Abraham is going to be the Father of Nations, and then he’s a childless, wandering nomad.
Jesus’ disciples think He’s going to save them from Roman rule, and then He’s on that cross.
Thank God for Our Failed Plans
Our purpose isn’t thwarted by what we see as “failed plans,” our purpose is brought to life through them.
Your twenties are about slowly building a plan that actually has a foundation to it—built on failures, strengths, mistakes, values, wrong turns, vision, etc.
Your twenties are about building a plan based on who you are, who you’re not, and who you’re becoming.
As I write in All Groan Up: “Your twenties are about failing, tweaking, then trying again. The best plan we can make is to continually plan to make new plans.”
One of the most crucial skills we can learn in our twenties is adaptability.
As Max McKeown, writes in Adaptability: The Art of Winning in an Age of Uncertainty, “All failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation.”
One of the most important traits we forge in our twenties is resiliency.
Our twenties are not about things going as we planned, but how we adapt, change and grow when they don’t.
Maybe you’re failing at what you thought was your dream so that you can succeed at finding your God-given, desert-tested, passion.
This article was originally posted at allgroanup.com.