I worked my whole adult life towards becoming a landscape architect. That was the plan from age 18 to 30. That. Was. The. Plan. And now I am unemployed and could not be happier!
When I was little, teachers told me all the time – you have to study hard and get good grades so you can get into a good college – so you can get a good job – so you can have a nice family and a nice life. It sounded like a straightforward enough plan and everything sounded, nice, and they were all saying it, so I went with it. Let me set the scene: high school, check, college, check, recession – wait what, unemployment – definitely not in the script, living at home – things have gone a rye. Me to myself, “Ok, remain calm what is plan B?” My response to myself, “WTF! IDK! There is no plan B!” Clearly, not calm enough. Fast forward six years of: one year working retail at a boutique, two years serving at a steakhouse, one six month landscape architecture internship, one epically epic quitting of said serving job and internship for one life changing move to Chicago, followed by more unemployment, and three temporary landscape designer positions spanning the last two years. And now I am here in week one of current unemployment on plan – honesty, I lost track, and like I said, I could not be happier!
When you’re little no one tells you what to do when plans A, B, C, and D don’t work. And they sure as hell don’t tell you what to do when you’re not even feelin’ your teenage dreams anymore. I can assure you it is way less glam than Katy Perry’s rendition. But here is the thing: it’s okay. Dr. Seuss says “you’re on your own and you know what you know and you’re the one who’ll decide where you go.” He’s right, here’s how to do it!
- Be still – if you have a persistent thought or feeling about something – allow it to develop so you can address it.
- Listen – you have to honor and explore your thoughts – ask yourself questions and answer honestly – this is going to give you an outlet for brainstorming your new plan.
- Speak it into existence – when you say something out loud that makes it real – so when you make a declarative statement about something in your life – understand you cannot take it back so a change is going to come.
- Get brave – so you have the courage to say no to the next thing that comes your way that would be easy but you know is not right for you.
- Trust the process – You’ve done the work, identified what is not right, thought about how you can fix it, said it out loud so it is real, and prepared yourself to be focused on what you want. Trust that – follow that – when you know what you want to do – other people can know too – and people want to help those who help themselves.
On Friday when I walked out of my landscape architecture office for the last time, I knew I wasn’t coming back. I mean clearly I was not going back to that office but also not to the profession. And even though I’ve just spent a year working there, and half a lifetime trying to get there, simply put – it’s not the right plan. But this is what I know – when you are honest with yourself, and your butterflies are in formation, and your soul is on fire – it won’t matter if you are on plan A or plan Z, oh the places you’ll go. “And when things start to happen don’t worry, don’t stew. Just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”