Ditch the Plan, Drive in the Direction

In the 3,200 miles I drove to Iowa and back this month, I did a lot of thinking. You’re hard-pressed to ignore those things you’ve been avoiding when it’s you, half a country of highway and no radio stations.

And in that half-country drive, I finally acknowledged what I want to do. A 100%, no doubt belief in what I am supposed to be doing with my time here on earth: raise cattle.

This isn’t a light switch moment. I’ve known for years – decades if you count those years growing up that I wanted nothing but ranching – that my place lies with the cow-calf ranch. But it has taken me a long time to work up the courage to face the challenge, and this trip finally has me toeing the starting line.

In the past two weeks, I’ve been focused on drawing up a plan. A set of steps that will put me in a position to tackle the challenge of cattle ranching.

Midweek, I decided to ditch the plan.

A plan is like a list. You cross off the first step of the plan and move on to the second. Nail the second, go to step three.

At this stage, a plan puts on blinders to other possible routes that could help you achieve the same goal. A plan needs to be flexible, and I’m not good with flexible plans. To be flexible, I need to not have a plan.

That sounds dumb, doesn’t it? How are you supposed to get where you want to go if you don’t have a plan?

John Deere tractor driving down dirt roadDrive in the direction you want to go. Make decisions with what you know now that will nose you in the direction you want to end up. After driving awhile, you’ll have more information and be better equipped to decide whether you want to turn left or right.

With the plan, you may not have seen the left or right turns, stuck to the original road map built on retired information and driven straight off the cliff you hadn’t seen.

If you’re flexible and can still be open-minded, use a plan. If you’re like me, drive in the direction you want to go with the destination guiding your decisions.

I wrote this before I saw this piece by Jesse Bussard. Similar topic, different viewpoint.

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