Thursday, July 19, 2007

My no plan always fails.

My no plan always fails.

“I had sex with a stranger I met over the Internet this weekend.”

There’s not a great response to this statement. When a friend I was having dinner with said this to me a few weeks ago I really didn’t know how to reply. This was not an activity he was proud of. He was not boasting, this was more of a confession. And it was not what I expected to talk about that night. But there it was.

After a fairly exhausting process of getting the back story to a week he was doing his best to forget we came to a stopping point. And I only had one question for him.

“How is next week going to be different than last week?”

He pondered the question for a few seconds and then said with utter sincerity, “I’m going to make better decisions next week.”

That’s not a plan. It sounds a little like a plan. I mean “make better decisions” seems like something you could put on one of Successories posters of golf that you see in corporate offices. If someone told you they were going to make better decisions next week you might even think they’d have a fairly successful week ahead of them. But they won’t, because “make better decisions” isn’t really a plan. It’s a hope. And it’s a hope everyone starts every week with.

No one begins their day by saying, “I’m going to make some horrible decisions today that have dire consequences for my career, my health and my life in general.” My friend didn’t say to himself, “I hope I make a series of poor decisions this week that eventually set me up perfectly for sex with a stranger. That way I won’t be able to look at myself in the rear view mirror when I drive home from wherever it is I meet this person.” On the contrary, he, like me and you, silently hoped that he’d make wise decisions. But hope, without the support of a plan, rarely withstands the pressures of reality.

Hope says, “I hope I don’t spend anytime on chat rooms this week. They’ve proven dangerous to me in the past.”

A plan says, “I’m not going to go online this week. I’m feeling too vulnerable to temptation.”

Hope says, “I hope that when everyone that cares about me is out of town I don’t get lonely and use that unmonitored time to misbehave.”

A plan says, “Whenever I go off the radar of my accountability partners I tend to get into trouble. I’m going to fill this weekend with healthy uses of my time. Boredom is dangerous for me.”

Hope says, “I hope that my thought life isn’t connected to my action life. That way I can feed my head fuel all week and then feign surprise when I light myself on fire this weekend.”

A plan says, “Strangers to sleep with don’t just fall down from the heavens in front of my car.

There’s always a starting point down that path, little steps I take during the week. I’m going to actively and passionately pursue avoiding those little steps and it starts with my thought life.”

Hopes and plans. Plans and hopes, the only reason I know this game so well is that I’ve played it for so many years. I bought into the lie of hope and saw life turn hopeless when I did. But through it all, I came away with one simple idea and that is this. Hope without a plan, is a plan to fail.

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