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“We’ve Got Plans for You”

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Amy returned from a working trip abroad. “Welcome home!” her boss said on the first day back at the office.

Amy was a little disoriented, thinking of her days in Rajasthan instead of the office at home.

“I want to hear all about India,” the boss said, although it seemed the boss mostly wanted to hear all about work.

The boss said she had done a good job on the trip, which is always nice to hear. But then the boss said something else. “We’ve been talking while you were away, and we’ve got plans for you, Amy.”

The statement jolted Amy out of her Indian daydream. We’ve got plans for you.

On the trip, Amy had been thinking a lot about her future. Maybe it involved staying with the company, maybe not. But one thing was for sure: Amy wanted to make her own plans. “I’ve got some plans for me too,” she thought.

***

It’s tempting to go along with other people’s plans for a while, buying yourself time. And then you look back and wonder, hey, what happened to my plans?

I don’t think that everyone toiling at a day job is unhappy. But I do think everyone has a dream, and if you aren’t willing to turn your dream into a plan, someone else will come along to impose their own plans on you. The next time this happens, think carefully: How do their plans fit into my plans?

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Image: Bohman

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    49 Comments

    • Jeremy Long says:

      This post hits my world directly. I appreciate you sharing this with us Chris.

    • Patricia GW says:

      Good advice, I feel the same way. The office has a plan to keep me in a little desk in the corner for the next five years, but I want to break free. In a year and a half, I’m putting my own plans into action and starting my life as a backpacking nomad.

    • Dan Brown says:

      Definitely agreed, but who knows – the company may have something up their sleeve that Amy never thought of in the first place. You never know, there could be people out there looking over you and wanting to take you to places you never knew about to begin with!

    • Drew says:

      I think there’s a paradox ripe for observation here:

      The more you live on your own terms, the more people want to take advantage of what you offer.

      No necessarily in an exploitative way; but when you’re doing interesting things with your life and not following the well-trodden path, there’s something very appealing to most people about it, even if they can’t seem to put their finger on it. “We’ve got plans for you” is another way of saying “Your life is captivating and productive. Please show us.”

    • Gillian says:

      The other one I hate (and that may be worse) it the ‘We can’t let you do that Amy…you’re too good at what you do here’. Nice…punished for being good at what I do. Bye..bye!! Cheers!

    • Elana Miller says:

      I like this metaphor. I think sometimes we care too much about the plans other people have for us instead of the plans we have for ourselves.

    • Angela says:

      “What happened to my plans?” Twenty years ago I lost sight of my plans – somehow I came to see them as unimportant and overshadowed by the “shoulds” of life. Thanks for putting this into words!

    • Steven says:

      The reality is that a company’s plans and a person’s plans won’t always line up. This brings up the question – Do I change my plans for them, or make them change their plans for me? If you’re good, and assume you are if the company is making plans for you, then you’re probably in a good position to negotiate.

    • rob white says:

      Indeed, we must make our first priority to ourselves. If we intend to experience our extraordinary self, we must stand up for ourselves in the right way. When writing our ‘plan’ it is essential to be guided by self-enlightening principles that honor our sacred contract of self-reliance.

    • John Sherry says:

      Life can be one big plan of everybody elses plans except your own – parents, society, authority figures, your family’s, and your boss, etc etc. The only plan we need to make is to plan for a life and future we carve and create. It’s like buying one big ticket to a round the world adventure – passengers name? Me!

    • Elise says:

      I had the exact same thought this morning walking to the office. Excellent timing!

    • Anita says:

      So true! I have been thinking about this lately and that when I let other people make all of the decisions I end up feeling resentful. I was raised on “salvation through suffering” so sometimes it is hard to do the things that I want to (not being hedonistic but also not what others would rather have me do) without feeling guilty, but I’m much more effective and cheerful when I follow my own guiding star!

    • Lauie Ann says:

      What I find interesting is, that without even hearing the plan, most people are assuming that her company’s plan is not something that would interest and excite Amy. Now I realize that the odds are low, but I think it is important to be open to the opportunities that the universe presents us. It may take us some place unexpected, but that is not always a bad thing. Maybe this new plan will take her to a new place, where she will meet new people, discover her bliss and create the future in her own image. Just saying..

    • Sukhi Muker says:

      Nobody Plans to Fail in Life, But so many Fail to Plan their Life!

    • Jenn says:

      I’m currently researching flights to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, preferably with a stop in Helsinki. Is it crazy, expensive and not the typical thing for a 27-year-old? Probably. But I know much I love to travel and how much better I am at most everything having had those experiences. I’m a writer, why not travel and write about it. I’ve put this trip off a bit because of moving, changing jobs, life. But I’ve decided to quit my day job (seriously, I gave notice) and freelance/travel/do what I really want in life and just go for it. Other people may have plans for you, but it doesn’t matter. My mom often tells me not to do things, or to do other things, but she also says “You’re life is so exciting!” a lot. So I’m thinking I’ll stick to what I’m doing, even if it makes mom a little crazy.

    • Phranc Lamm says:

      Funny thing, everytime I get an update from this site I get more motivated to leave my job. I’ve already decided to leave at the end of the year and strike out on my own again but these posts always make me impatient. That’s not necessarily a good thing… action without proper preparation can be disastrous… I have had a firm vision of where I want to be in 5 years for a while now and getting there will be tough. It involves working for myself again while traveling but if you don’t get paid for it it can end pretty quickly. Thanks for the motivation though!

    • I find the very phrase, “We (or ‘I’) have big plans for you!” to be one of the most presumptuous around.

      As far as work goes, I feel like if you work for a company you indeed need to be aligned with the company’s plans and vision – as long as you make yourself as much of an indispensable part of the team devising and executing that plan as possible – whereas, if you are on your own, your plan has to be even more clear and specific, while at the same time accounting for contingencies and the need to flex here and there.

    • Dan Miller says:

      Having a company tell you they have plans for you is fine — and expected in that environment. The key is whether you have clarified your own plans. If you have not, then the company can take you down the wrong path. If their plans match your own then it can be a mutually beneficial direction.

      Too many people have not taken the initiative to develop a clear plan for themselves – thus they are vulnerable to any company, organization or person pulling them into someone else’s plans.

    • Dan Plasman says:

      Speaking of other people having plans for you, I’m reminded of George Clooney’s character, Ryan Bingham, in the movie UP IN THE AIR, who says to the man he has just fired, “How much did the company have to pay you to give up on your dreams?”

    • This article reminds me of a quote from my favorite poet Saul Williams: “And now that man’s hands have plans for me. And now THAT man’s hands have plans for me”

      I think it is true, if we don’t make a decision, someone else will make it for us. It’s a two-part process, learning how to turn your dreams into a plan and believing in yourself to go make it happen. Thanks for encouraging us!

    • Charlie says:

      I once heard if you don’t have goals…you’ll just be a part of someone else’s goals. Great post, Chris.

    • Linda says:

      Not to sound morbid, but I don’t want to make cancer the reason I start to appreciate life.

      The same could be said for making goals happen in the workplace. Sometimes I’m motivated by the fact that when I don’t create my ideal work environment, somebody else is creating and reaping their career success.

      Good for Amy:).

    • Bryann says:

      Great post. Can’t help but echo everyone else’s sentiments, too. I’ve found that if you appear free-spirited in nature, like say, earning a living from traveling and writing, somehow the argument can shift from “you’re not getting a real job” to “you’re not contributing to society.”

    • Matthew says:

      Four years ago my director would say the same thing. She talked about big ideas and plans that she, and others, had for me. On one hand, it was incredibly complimentary, but it bothered me that others might be laying out a future for me without asking if I was interested in how it would unfold. After realizing I wanted something different, I quit my job and joined the Peace Corps. I finished my 27 months of service in December, and it was one of the best decisions and experiences in my life.

      During my service I was accepted to graduate school to pursue my passion. I will begin in the fall, and in the interim have managed to rejoin my former organization on a short term contract. My director no longer talks about her plans for me, but the wonderful plans I have made for myself. I believe that the people who appreciate you and your talents will embrace your passion and plans, and together you can find ways to work with each other without sacrificing what you really want.

    • Brad says:

      Great post! But one has to first figure out what their plans actually are. Sometimes we are so distanced from our dreams for such a significant period of time that we lose total sight of those dreams.

    • Shana says:

      If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much. ” -Jim Rohn
      =

    • Jess Ostroff says:

      It’s often *easier* to have other people make decisions for you. I think that’s why people do it. Taking the easy way can be best in certain situations, but most of the time it’s the lame way, and makes for one really awful day when you wake up and wonder what happened to your own brain.

      Go hard or go home!

    • Jon says:

      It is a balance between “your” plan and “their” plan, but just going along with their plan can be sleepwalking through life. We need to control or engage in our life plan and be the driver, rather than being “driven.”

    • In early January, I made my plans for 2011 clear, and ever since, I’ve been amazed at people’s willingness to support me in those plans. Writing my plans down has provided a benchmark to revisit if a job offer or relationship might get me off track. I was able to say no to a job offer because I knew that wasn’t the direction I wanted to go.

    • Therese says:

      No doubt about it: if you don’t take the time to think about your own plan and your own path for your life, someone else will most certainly impose their own plans upon you (even if “someone else” is just life itself).

      It’s one of the most important questions you can ask:

      Where will I make my own path?

    • Hugh says:

      What a great, quick post! My wife is actually going through a similar situation right now. She has the ability to work 100% from home, instead of commuting an hour each way every day. We are planning to pitch her remote working idea to her boss when we begin to have kids in a year or so. But, recently her boss has been suggesting giving her additional responsibilities at the office, responsibilities that she couldn’t necessarily do from home. Not that she’s afraid of more responsibility, but these aren’t in her plans or our plans. I can’ wait to show her this post!

    • Susan says:

      I’ve had this issue on my mind over the last couple of days. Of course it applies to relationships too. Getting clear on what you want to create in your life and respecting your own judgement is an ongoing process.

    • Erin Hoffman says:

      Last night I was visiting with a friend who, it turns out, has had some marital turmoil this past year. In her zeal to take phenomenal care of her husband and kids, she had become a “check list wife”, getting everything done with phenomenal efficiency and a dismal lack of meaning. Having lived a routine for so long, she said she had to relearn how to want things…starting with the laundry. Sure it needs to be done, but did she WANT to do it? If so, awesome, she could enjoy the process. If not, she’d have to figure out what she wanted instead.

      For those who have inadvertently succumbed to others’ plans, wants and needs, emerging can be exhilarating (as most commenters have expressed) or confusing. Lest we get lost in the emotion, I’d like to point out that creating your own plan can be relished in even small, deliberate decisions.

    • Brittany Baxter says:

      “You have to be fucking fierce with your life no body else will do that for you” – One quote I now live my life by!

      Up untill 3 weeks ago I was living my life by everyone else’s plans, because for some reason everyone thought their plan for me was best and I agreed simply because it seemed to be the easy way out, although I was miserable.

      Then I started to think what is more important, my happiness and my life or everyone else’s plans? Leaving my job to live my life the way that I want to has been the best choice I have ever made and the scariest I have no idea how I am going to do everything that I want to do, but the uncertanity is what makes it so exciting – I’m now starting to see that my opportunities are endless. We simply don’t have the time to wait for our lives to happen! Take the step out and the universe will provide you with what you need, just trust yourself.

    • Tara Gentile says:

      This was me. At was working the day job as a manager at Borders and drinking in all the “plans” my boss & his boss had for me.

      It’s nice to feel like other people have their eye on you. Like there’s a direction you’re headed.

      But, they left, their plans didn’t materialize. I left and now that store is closed. Less than 3 years and all their plans for me nothing – except that now MY plans for me are bigger & bolder than I could have ever dreamed!

    • Donna says:

      I’m 60 and I still have plans. How dare I?! These days, the plans other people seem to have for me are no plans at all. Oh, they love the stories I tell about the life I’ve led, but seem to think the story is over. Well, I did come back to the house I bought 25 years ago in a town I knew would still be a good place to live in when I finally returned to it. But that doesn’t mean I “retired”. Nope. I’m very glad that I spent a good part of my years developing skills I don’t need an employer to deal with. I need clients, of course. And right now I’ve got employers, more than one because I refuse to be dependent on just one, mostly for the sake of rebuilding a network here, though they don’t know that. This is just a base from which I’ll build the next phase of my life. I find that it’s now about creating something that gives young people the possibilities it took me so long to discover I had.

    • Barry says:

      Taking over the world sure is a lot of work, Pinky!
      — Brain

    • Brent Sears says:

      How does it go? “There are people who have goals, and there are people that work for them.” Doing your own thing is a struggle and a fight, but at the end of most days it is more than worth it. Thanks for the short bit of encouragement!

    • Prime says:

      This is why I turned down a promotion. My company has plans for me but I have my own plan (and accepting that promotion is not aligned with my plan).

    • Neil says:

      Heaven forbid an employer should be primarily interested in the work someone did on a trip they paid for a staff member to have. I know we can get to tied down by the detail of the example but here I think it is important. The phrase “we’ve got plans for you” should excite any staff member – especially those looking for a change. To take this as an inidication that all personal ambition will be thwarted from now on is the type of over-reaction which gives the ‘unconventiona’l a bad name (as the ‘unemployable’). One can seek to follow one’s own dreams and stay out of the cubicle but if they react like this to an offer of a chat to discuss the future, they may well me missing out. Our Cambodian moto-taxi driver (of another recent post) would jump at the opportunity to listen to what the plans might be!

    • After nine years with a fast growing and highly visible company, I was given a self-review sheet, asking where I saw myself in five years, what I wanted to be doing, future goals and all that. I filled it out, and sent back a blank one, asking my ‘managers’ where they saw me, what their goals were, all of that. I got no respose, they thought I was joking. There was absolutely no plan, no future, no direction. Where was I going? I didn’t know, and neither did they! Needless to say, I jumped from that ship of fools first chance I got! Too busy looking forward to my future to look back now. If you are going to sail on a ship, it is good to be the captain!

    • Gwyn says:

      There is comfort in having the plans made for you. In having a road map. I like knowing that someone has an answer but I have never been able to stay on the road or follow the plan to the T. That led to a lot of stumbling in the dark because I still believed “their” way was the only way. Thankfully we have arrived at a time when we can be encouraged to forge our own paths and my plans have no limitations!

    • Ginger says:

      Your post really hits a nerve.

      Parents have plans for you, your partner has plans for your, your boss has plans for you. It shows two things a) you are worthy to be counted on, b) you are not really in control of your own life.

      It is great to be valued, but it is our path in life, our goals, our ideas and convictions. Nobody else´s plans should have priority over this, otherwise we will get lost. Sometimes you have to make compromises but the overall goal should be yours. If not, you give up your integrity and your actual being, which is greater than you think.

      First, make your own plans, otherwise you become a punching ball for everyone around and a very dependent person. Be aware of people making plans for you, because they do not even know you to the extent you know yourself.

      Wishing you a great Easter celebration.

    • This post gave me determination to enjoy yet another day of complete uncertainty. Today, sitting in front of my painting, vertigo hit me: “What the f#¤%&/@ am I doing, sitting here painting, shouldn’t I get a real job?!” This post reminded me that I really should not. Thanks.

    • Franisz says:

      “Don’t let someone else create your world, for when they do they will always create it too small.” ?Ed Cole

      By the way, Chris, if you have the time to visiting Indonesia again, please let me know : ). There are more fascinating things than Batam or Bali. Perhaps you might want to watch this short footage from a TV commercial which including about Indonesia’s destinations or islands, and still there are more beautiful things or places than what’s on that ads!

      Love the silhouette image of Indonesia on the right side of your beloved website. : )

    • Stephanie J. says:

      I just wrote a blog post of my own yesterday about this very subject! Perfect timing it seems for everyone 🙂

    • Rosey says:

      Of course everyone has plans for you FROM DAY 1! Parents have high hopes and future plans, all they really want is your happiness and wellbeing.
      Bosses have plans for you because you can’t see your own hidden talents.
      You have your own plans the minute you’re able to think. When you’re nearly grown up, to be sure you’re going to resist the “system”, it’s a given……repeated throughout history.
      Finally, when you’re actually grown up and start taking responsibilty for your actions is the time to really reflect on how well you’re able to provide for yourself without having to rely on anyone supporting you or falling into a welfare trap.

      Putting your own plans into action all by yourself is the true indicator of taking your life into your own hands – true independence.

    • This is so true. We all have dreams and many times we put them back into our pockets because they may not be the norm or fit with what others expect of us.
      One life, once chance. Set your plans and live your plans.

    • Josh Hughes says:

      It really is about planning and constant evaluation. Otherwise, it is just so easy to fallow where someone else opens the path for you, even if that isn’t really what you want.

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