Today is my first day of school. I’m starting a Masters in Marketing program at a local university. I’ve been planning for this day for more than a year, without ever really being sure that it was going to happen. It was only about a month ago that I was approved for the government grant I had applied for last year. Without this grant, going back to school would have been financially impossible; there was no way I could set any goals without knowing if I was part of this program or not.
So therefore I was in a state of limbo for the past year, at least as far as future projects went. That’s a difficult state in which to live, not knowing how much money I would be earning, where I would be working, when and if we would be moving… you name it, I didn’t know it.
In fact, the situation I was in was like any other sort of transition: unemployment, changing careers, company take-overs, cross country moves etc. And in my opinion, not knowing where you are going is especially difficult when you are not in control of the outcome.
So how do you set goals or make plans when you don’t know what is going to happen? Here are the two ways I handled it.
- Control what you can. OK, so I didn’t know if I was going back to school or back to work. But I did know that I would be signing my children up for reading classes in English, so I had to prepare and plan for that in my budget.
- Accept that you can’t control everything. You can call it giving yourself up to a higher power, accepting the inevitable, or just resigning yourself to the situation, but I find that accepting things helps when there is nothing else to do. There was a point at which the waiting seemed interminable. Stressing about it made it worse and certainly didn’t help the decision happen quicker.
How do you handle situations when you can’t plan for the future? How do you set goals when you don’t know what you’re aiming for?