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You Need to Forget the ‘5-Year Plan’

In a job interview I once had for a photography internship, they asked what life goals I had and where I pictured being in five years. I explained that I’ve only ever had two life goals. The first was that I hoped to love God more than the previous day and the second was that I aimed to be the best husband I could be, even though I was unmarried at the time (I regularly fail at both of these for what it’s worth).

For my five-year plan, I said I didn’t want to plan that far out, other than maintaining those two aspirations. I felt that life was too unpredictable to make those types of long-term plans. Needless to say, I was passed over for the internship due to the other finalist’s desire of becoming a full-time commercial photographer as quickly as possible and mine wasn’t that at all. That process caused me to evaluate what I hold dear and believe to be true of God and life, and I don’t regret that.

If someone had approached me five years ago claiming to be a fortune-teller and went on to explain that I’d end up where I’m currently at, I would have chalked the description up to an implausible ideal that sounded nice but would be ultimately unattainable.

The problem with five-year plans is that they rarely allow foresight into what possibilities exist beyond our personal imagination or dreams for ourselves. Planning is something I value, but being strict and inflexible to an ideal originating from what I can conceive as the best possible outcome for my life dissuades me away from all chance and opportunity. Seldom do I attempt to plan beyond a year for what I hope to see come to fruition in my life. This isn’t to say that planning and goal-setting is unimportant, in fact, what I’m saying aligns perfectly with proactive thinking for the future. I am a firm believer that without vision people perish, however, by the same token, I trust what Proverbs 3:5-12 says about placing trust within God’s wisdom and His ability to make straight the path ahead.

Creating a blueprint for how to live is important, but it’s not what is most important. When we focus on what we believe is possible, we can limit our potential. It’s arrogant to assume that our life’s ultimate purpose and eventual outcome is solely left up to what our brains can muster up. It could be easy to conclude that what I’m advocating for a is a free-spirited, go-with-the-flow, disarranged outlook on life-planning, however, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

My position is that by creating tight, self-imposed guidelines for achieving each mile marker on the map we fabricated for our life’s journey, we shackle our potential to the damp and unforgiving prison walls of our own ambition. By attempting to become who we think we should be, we can abdicate who we have been created to be.

I realize and admit that not all careers (or callings) can let go of long-term planning. If no plans were made or adhered to, we’d have no nurses or astronauts or teachers and thank God we do. That’s not even what I’m really trying to get at though. My point is that while those pursuits are good and right paths to pursue, perhaps with chance, open-mindedness and Holy Spirit guidance, there could be even more for us than we ever imagined.

My ambitions five years ago wouldn’t have been a bad pursuit at all. I mainly prayed to be married and make enough money as a photographer to support a family. Those goals weren’t bad at all. What they didn’t do however was attempt to factor in God’s goodness, provision and leading. If you had asked me then if I thought it would be possible to work for Apple on their marketing team in London while not going into debt to support the world’s best wife through her dream program at her dream university, I would have said you were crazy. I could barely afford to buy groceries five years ago let alone think about paying for a master’s degree. Luckily, God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.

This piece was originally published at iamcartermoore.com. Used with permission.

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