MAN PLANS and GOD LAUGHS
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This is a series of essays on the COVID19 impact. If you find these articles useful please share.
Essay 1: MAN PLANS and GOD LAUGHS
On February 10th, my wife and I boarded a plane headed for Singapore. Just days into our trip, the cruise we were going to take landing us in Hong Kong had been canceled. The beginning of a new world reality was starting to settle in. For the first time, we are becoming aware that “this” might be a problem. As corona cases rise and countries begin to announce travel restrictions, we make a hasty exit to our next stop, but within a few weeks, the world is a different place. We are holding tickets to Portugal and Israel for the same day not sure which way to go. When we arrive at the almost deserted airport we opt for neither, instead, we grab the most direct route back to YYZ. We have been part of the great global lockdown ever since.
So many plans, so many people making them, all over the world, altered in unforeseen ways. How about your plans?
We are eternal optimists about our tomorrow. Yet, there will always be twists and turns that can derail the best-laid plans. Our economy and socialization are based on planning. We plan holidays and parties. We make financial plans. Retirement plans. We make business plans. We plan based on expectations that the conditions of the future will be the same as today along with some reasonable margin for change. We plan and we plan and we plan some more. “Man plans and God laughs”, I have not been able to track down the origins of this adage but the phrase seems to best describe the exasperation of a world brought to its knees.
Under the best of circumstances, life tends to interfere with our plans. There are situations that come up entirely beyond our control. The result is interrupted expectations. Sometimes serendipity plays its hand in very positive ways; a chance meeting, for example, that changes your future. Other times, the result can be a difficult loss. When a situation alters our expectations about the future, our quickness to adapt to the new reality is important to how well we adjust to our new norm existence. The time it takes us to adjust to the new norm is the “gap” between acceptance and action. The faster we can move to the stage where we accept the faster we can create a plan of action to move forward. These plans of action, even in the short term, provide positive momentum. On the flip side, the longer that you exist in stagnation the more displaced you will feel, the potential for a depreciating negative momentum.
The effect of COVID is on such a mass global scale where literally “everyone’s” life is altered in such profound ways concerning their finances, freedoms, emotions, and psychology. The chaos and unknowns with which the coronavirus has come onto the scene has been mind-blowing. Every day we are waking up to government plans trying to limit its spread; “flatten the curve” is the language used. Sending our economies into a death spiral. The global effects are unprecedented. For at least anyone alive today, there is nothing in our memories where we can learn from experience.
If someone had told me, that I would be able to take off a few months just hanging out at home and spending quality time with my kids, focused on each other in ways that have been long lost with everyone’s pursuit of their own lives, I would have dreamily said: “that would be great but I could never make that happen – those days are gone”. And yet, here I am every day at home with our kids, home movies, scrabble, painting, long walks, all our meals at home together. Bowie, our Maltipoo probably thinks he died and went to doggy heaven. An endless buffet of love and affection.
I have gone through the disbelief at the surrealness of all this and have come into some acceptance that this is the way it is for now. Despite the continued unknowns I am continuing to plan. Albeit, with a number of alternatives in mind. While we may be completely uncertain about the immediate future, we cannot stop to plan. Planning is about believing in the future and the vision of a future drives us forward. In my book, Moving Through Walls, I talk about visualizing the future as an active practice to keep a positive frame of mind, something the current situation we are all in calls for.
Not sure where this all goes, or how we are going to exit from this lockdown but I am pretty certain that there is no going back to the way things were. Every major event in humanity leaves its mark and this story is unfolding every day. There is no precision in any predictions. I’m in no rush anyway, just planning one day at a time.
Stay safe, stay healthy.
Israel Ellis is the author of Moving Through Walls (2019), CEO of AdvancePro Technologies, and Co-Founder of 365 Investment Partners. visit www.israelellis.com
Moving Through Walls contains practices, philosophies, attitudes, and anecdotes that will challenge one’s assumptions and inspire them to commit to new, transformational practices. Israel Ellis takes us on a journey to explore how we limit ourselves when instead we can optimize our potential.