What’s YOUR Big Picture Perspective Plan?
As a little girl, I had often envisioned and planned for what would be the perfect day. Clearly, as an 8 year old, it was a day perfumed with simple, consecutive activities, ending with complete satisfaction and robust accomplishment. (Seriously?! I know, I know. SMH)
That perfect day has yet to transpire (duh!), but my perfectionism, fortunately/unfortunately, continues to thrive…
Two weeks ago, I was plagued with an unsettling feeling of anxiety, brought about by the uncertainty of unconstructed plans.
PAUSE: Anxiety? Unconstructed plans? What? Yes & Yes & It’s.A.Long.Story. So, here’s the short-version: I met a man who, unknowingly and indirectly, challenged my capacity for excellence, through his own superior existence (I’m talking a mind, body, & soul over-achiever). So, of course, I start to examine myself, my life, and my own ambitions…
Now, let’s be clear, I am 28 years old, just purchased my first home, have an amazing job (and I own a small side-business), and am blessed with the most loving family and friends. BUT, I’m barely in my second quarter of life — that means there’s (if I’m lucky) 50 more years ahead [says Google] — which brings me back to unconstructed plans… HOW WILL I FILL ALL OF THAT TIME? I’m talking big picture perspective plans: career achievements, personal accomplishments, establishing emotional and intellectual ideologies, and predetermining some sort of identity protocol.
Therefore, the quest began! Unconstructed plans: LET’S CONSTRUCT!
So, to start, I assumed that, surely, other people in my life have figured these things out (i.e. how to frame together a map for a fulfilling life, maximized by on-going, meaningful pursuits). Therefore, helloooo inquiring minds need to know (and I, also, figured that the insight I’d gain could provide me with a starting point for my own map). WRONG! What/How come? Well, annoyingly, none of the people I asked had given it much thought and (WORSE) none of them were worried about it!
Ironic, when you grow up with a dad who relished in reciting apothegms, such as:
…yet even he, my dad, hasn’t mapped life out.
Now, to clarify, I’m not a complete, rigid monster without a taste for spontaneity — that’s ridiculous! I fully understand the beauty in the unknown (positive/negative) gifts that life delivers and I, quite boastfully, think I’m a great shifter, in times of adjusting. But, shouldn’t we be dedicating time and thought to the big picture perspective plans and goals?!
It’s an interesting discussion to have with people, if you’re interested. On my quest to construct, and to alleviate my anxiety, here are the two questions, vague enough to provide some wiggle room, that I enjoyed asking:
- What are you trying to get out of this life?
- Do you have a big picture perspective plan?
My surveying, of course, started with my parents… It was an obvious choice, as I immensely admire the life they’ve built (so far). These two, as noted by a close friend, are “seriously the cuuutest”, and turns out they didn’t care to outline their evolution, as a couple or individually. Therefore, my questions were met with a big LOL (for those confused, my cute mom has reassigned that acronym to mean: “Lecture of Love”). To sum it up, I was told that excessive planning would deteriorate some of the joy of unearthing life’s offerings. Fair answer, but not yet satisfied! I understand that I can’t engineer a play-by-play for the next 18,250 days (hopefully) of my life, but I don’t understand why clear, personal guidelines for purposeful living, outlines of inspired aspirations, and consistent evaluation/reevaluation isn’t a thing?! (Or at least not in the formal arrangement that I’m seeking)
Next up, best friend questioning… Now, with monumental, burning questions, this girl is by far one of my favorite confidants. She’s full of grace and smarts, plus a wealth of experience. In fact, a few years ago she set out, on a path, to capture the existence she desired and designed. Obviously, she’s a perfect fit for this conversation, right? Well, yes & no. Yes, because she figured out her short-term plan and is quite analytical when it comes to the purpose of (her) life. No, because my questions were catered to with love, as always, BUT were followed by… more questions. Like what? Well, like: “WHY do you need to find these answers?” and “HOW will having a more thorough, concrete design for your life benefit you/or will it?” AWESOME & thanks… It’s good though, food for more thought.
Enter, the ex-boyfriend-friend… Let the third-degree interrogation begin — he’s used to it, right? JOKES!! Now, an ex-boyfriend-friend isn’t a common commodity in my life, but there’s always an exception! This man has sparked numerous Ah-Ha Moments and instigated/guided tons of personal growth for me. Therefore, when asked to grab dinner, I, without hesitation, took my opportunity to pick his brain. Knowingly, these questions could easily take an abstract turn, but I never quite anticipated the opposite (at least not from him): SIMPLICITY. I was presented with his list of goals (for the moment) and predictions for how they could evolve. Unfortunately, though insightful, it wasn’t quite hitting the spot.
LADIES: Pay attention here! While planning (or attempting to plan) your life, though relationship&babies might occupy #1 on your list (or be your WHOLE list)… When questioned, a lot of guys, excited by work accomplishments and adventuresome accolades, didn’t even think to include relationship&babies on their list [AT ALL]. Now, that’s not to say they don’t want those things (I’m sure most of them do — including my ex-boyfriend-friend), but that’s not at their forefront! Should it be at yours? That’s something I definitely have, since, given more thought to, myself…
Without overwhelming or boring you with my numerous, impromptu interviews, I’m happy to summarize. Throughout my investigation, of course, I gained value and insight, but that EUREKA MOMENT just didn’t arrive. I felt like I had sat down with my interviewees to discuss a FEAST of a question, but left STARVED by their answers. How is it that with all of the unknowns in this universe and the abundance of opportunity to blueprint a masterful life, that there are so few people truly asking more from themselves? Shouldn’t we all be striving for a superior existence, challenging our own capacity for excellence? Sure, the definition of a “superior existence” for each person will vary, but, at the very basic level, all I was trying to ask is HOW WILL YOU PAINT YOUR LIFE: paying attention to the fine details and brush strokes, exploring the perspective of your painting (life) from afar, and ensuring the series of your body of work (years) remains cohesive to your genuine, intrinsic yearnings.
So, now what? Well, unfortunately, I couldn’t divorce myself from my questions and, therefore, continued with my internal pursuits. A LOT of BRAINSTORMING, a lot of writing, and a lot of reading…
Eventually, I did receive my EUREKA MOMENT, through a book titled: A Guide to the Good Life [the ancient art of stoic joy] by William B. Irvine.
Seriously?! The first page of this book was speaking (if not screaming with overjoyed excitement) to my soul! Shall I? The first line reads: “WHAT DO YOU WANT out of life?” Can I get a Hallelujah?! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!
Now though, I had been running around asking everyone about their big picture perspective plan, Irvine more eloquently wants you to ask yourself: “What’s your grand goal in living?”. It resonated (so hard) with me — particularly because it, in a way, validated my quest to construct plans and comforted the unknown source of my anxiety from unconstructed plans. His book speaks to ancient philosophical practices and ideals — most of which can easily be implemented in your own life.
“There are costs associated with not having a philosophy of life. I have already mentioned one such cost: the danger that you will spend your days pursuing valueless things and will therefore waste your life.” — excerpt from this praise-worthy find.
Surely, this book isn’t the end-all-be-all, but it’s a solid starting point and foundation. For me, what I’ve taken away is what I would consider to be the glue for my life: a mindset, with daily, lifelong practices, binding together and lining my big picture perspective plans.
And she lived happily ever after: THE END!
No, absolutely not, that’s the perfectionist speaking. The initial motivation for attacking my unconstructed plans was due to a desire to challenge my capacity for excellence. Well, unlike a hotel’s ability to definitively determine their housing capacity, we (unfortunately/fortunately) aren’t supplied those known limitations. Therefore, your capacity for excellence should constantly be challenged and evaluated — which, ultimately, means your big picture perspective plans aren’t to be set in stone. THAT’S NOT TO SAY YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE THEM (goodness, that would mean I’ve wasted a lot of breath here!), but you should continue to devote time to their evolution, as you continue to grow & evolve.
All in all, I’ve defined my own big picture perspective plans and have become aware of how important, I believe, that it is to have this conversation. We, 100%, should be dedicating time and thought to these big picture perspective plans. And, I’m happy to help: I mean, after all, why wouldn’t I gift the same anxiety (winky face) and challenge to the next person to achieve their superior existence.
ACTION ITEMS / FOOD FOR MORE THOUGHT:
- Let’s fuel the realm of purposeful living and initiate conversations centered around constructing big picture perspective plans.
- 50 years (give or take)! How will you fill yours?!