While I’m going to use examples from my childhood and that of my children, this article does not apply only to parents and children. It applies to anyone who would see you do something different because of what they think is best for you. The honest reality is that sometimes their plan is better but far less appealing. Sometimes your plan is best and they simply don’t know any better until you show them. Sometimes either plan could work just as well but the more successful one will ultimately prove to be the one you believe in the strongest. Let me explain…
When I was growing up, my dad was an old world Italian. He had a plan for me. I was an adopted child and I’m pretty sure he knew his whole plan for my life the day the Borelli family picked me up from the welfare department. When I say “plan for my life,” I suspect he had my life planned to include college, one profession (or maybe two just so I had some kind of choice), marriage, kids, house, where I’d live, and more… probably though until I was about forty and then MAYBE I’d be able to make some sensible choices of my own. I didn’t realize just how strongly my dad felt about his plan until I graduated from high school and enlisted in the Army. You see, that wasn’t on his plan. In his world, me joining the Army was me wasting my life. Didn’t I realize how much he had planned for me that I was going to miss out on? Didn’t I realize how much I was screwing up my life because his plan was so much better? On the other hand, my one all-encompassing thought about his plan was: Doesn’t he realize this is MY life and not his?
When I had children of my own I tried my best to support them in their goals and let them figure out their own plan. I tried to remember that what I felt was best for them might not be what they felt was best for them and that they had to be free to learn if they were wrong. I have one child that had opportunity to get a pilot’s license (fixed wing) while they were in high school. They made the choice not to. I felt it was a big mistake but they were certain that they had no desire for it and no use for it. It was not my place to force them into it. I had taught them values and a sense of judgment. They were intelligent and driven. They just didn’t see any use for that pilot’s license. Some years later they might have looked back and thought that maybe they should have gotten it just because the opportunity won’t present itself as readily now. But my point is: the opportunity came up. I voiced my outlook. They voiced theirs and then made their choice. I had promised myself that I wouldn’t be like my dad and try to force my plan for their life on them. So I stood back and let them make their choice. In the end, it’s all worked out for the best – which it usually seems to do.
This same outlook or philosophy can apply to anyone in your life that thinks they have some authority over you. Your spouse, boss, supervisor, teacher, counselor, priest and more. All of them have their own opinion about what’s best for you. Your job is to listen to the advice or guidance that they offer and then filter through it to decide what they’ve offered that is actually best for you. You see, what’s best for you is something only you can determine.
Sure, it’s wise to take your doctor’s advice and if you’re a spiritual person, listening to your priest/reverend/minister is probably a good idea, but ultimately, you’ll never 100% agree with everything you’re told. If your spouse is telling you something is good for you, I’d suggest you very carefully measure the anticipated outcome if you ignore that advice and communication is HUGE if you disagree about anything, but…
You have to be prepared to “weather the storm” when you do something others disagree with. That’s the price you pay for picking your path. That’s the price you pay for deciding to make your own choices and to live with the consequences of your decisions. There are several possible outcomes as you do so.
First, you could be right and the other person involved will eventually see that (if they are any kind of mature).
Second, you could be wrong and eventually that will be displayed to you in a completely obvious fashion.
Third, the outcome may be neutral and while that’s not a bad outcome, it’s not success either, so you have to take a step back, re-examine the possibilities and then move forward on a new path with a new plan. This time around you should change something to increase your chances of success. So if you took someone’s advice and it didn’t work out, drop their advice and try again. If you didn’t take their advice and it didn’t work out, take their advice into account as you make another attempt.
Ultimately, your path and your plan are yours. It is wise to seek out and heed the wisdom of those you respect, most especially if they’ve traveled a similar path or will be involved with you as you travel yours. It is not intelligent to listen to the advice of people who have never traveled a similar path and don’t really seem to be getting anywhere as they wander along on theirs.
Choose wisely but remember who is responsible for your path and your plan.