There was recently a fun conversation that broke out during my Life Group from church. It was a light hearted debate about planning for the future versus planning for the here and now. Some of the people are planners, having a mental timeline for where they want to be in five years. Others are more focused on day to day planning, giving more regard to what’s in front of them then what they could potentially face down the road. It was interesting to see the different personality types emerge in the group and how open or resistant people were to the idea of planning for the future. To me, it’s a tight rope because too much focus on it can cause you to miss out on the important things in front of you now. But to ignore it completely can be unwise because you need to have a general strategy of where you are going. I am very guilty of becoming consumed with the here and now and then realize that I’m living life kind of aimlessly. So a question that comes to mind is whether we are ostriches or eagles?
Most people have heard that an ostrich will stick its head in the ground when it sense danger. This is not completely accurate, however, because the ostrich will actually lower its head close to the ground when trouble is coming. But let’s not get caught up in semantics. An eagle, on the other hand, soars at great heights and uses its tremendous eyesight to assess the situation. Two very different responses to danger. My money is on the eagle to survive over the ostrich!
It might seem like a silly analogy, but I hope the point is pretty clear. Are you short-sighted (ostrich) or long-sighted (eagle)? How strategic are you when you look at your personal growth, your family, your career, or your business? Do you tend to let life come to you or do you go out and seize the day? I confess that I’ve never been one to have a five-year plan. I hated those exercises in college where you had to imagine yourself 10 years down the road. But there is value in forcing yourself to think about the future and where or who you would like be. The few times I’ve actually followed through with this I feel better about myself and the direction I’m headed. I’ve applied it to finances, personal growth, parenting, volunteering, etc. It’s a powerful self-discipline that bring about positive change in our lives. But we also have to take steps toward achieving that vision.
Tom Landry, long time NFL football head coach, said that “Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.” In other words, you have to plan the work and then work the plan. And then you have to deal with the inevitable setbacks that will come. In the words of the great philosopher Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan ‘till they get punched in the mouth.”
Going back to the earlier analogy, eagles are viewed as powerful, mighty creatures. Would they be viewed this way if they soared high in the air but never came down for the attack? Probably not. It is extremely important to find a balance between looking down the road and seeing what’s right in front of you. Once we can achieve that balance, life can be a full and exciting journey.