Lessons Learned in 30 Years That Have Gone Anything but According to Plan

turning 30

By Therese Schwenkler

Last week I turned 30, and looking back on my life, let me tell you: Things haven’t gone even remotely according to plan.

Instead of being married with two Ralph Lauren model-looking kids and a house in the suburbs, I’m a single adventurer who rented out my house to travel.

Instead of climbing the corporate ladder and utilizing my accounting degree like a “good” college grad would, I’ve given it all up for a life of Internet entrepreneurship and freelance work.

And now, instead of adventuring the globe, health issues have me living back at home with Mom & Dad for the time being while I get the temple that is my body back in order.

None of my life — may I repeat, none of it – has gone according to plan.

If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

And yet here’s the weird, honest-to-God truth: I wouldn’t have it any other way.

And yes, I truly mean that. I wouldn’t trade this life of mine for anything — not for an instantaneous fairytale transformation and certainly not for the straight and narrow path that I initially envisioned.

And you know what? If there’s one weird tip to trimming belly fat strange and wondrous lesson I’ve learned in this lifetime, I think that would be it: That this life, right here, right now, no matter how off-track it may feel right now, is exactly it.

See, day by day I’m learning to love this strange and messy life, imperfections and twists and turns and all. And when I say “love,” I don’t just mean I’ve learned to tolerate it like I’m sitting through the Superbowl while secretly anticipating Beyonce’s halftime show. I mean I’ve learned to actually love it — to truly love this life, right here, right now, just as it is.

Here’s why I think you should, too, even if (no, especially if!) your life hasn’t exactly turned out as planned.


First off, look at it this way: There are two sides to every equation; a head and a tail to every coin. By letting go of your need for life to go according to plan, sure, there’s the risk of things sucking. But baked into this suckiness is also the opportunity for limitless possibility. In fact, I’m convinced that one cannot exist without the other: You can only get the upside if you’re willing to risk the downside.

In order to reach for the “great,” you’ve got to risk letting go of the “good” and having an empty hand.

In order to experience great joy, you’ve got to be willing to open yourself up to pain.

In order to discover new lands, you’ve got to be willing to ditch the map and lose sight of the shore.

In order to live an amazing life, sometimes you’ve got to be willing to let go of control and let go of your plans.

In fact, I haven’t met a single person who has walked a straight and narrow, easily defined path to a life of joy and passion.

Not one.

(On the other hand, I can name countless people who’ve taken the straight and narrow path to a life devoid of joy and filled with mediocrity and disappointment.)

Because in that in-between space of the unknown and uncertainty and of flux?

That is precisely where the growth lies.

Which leads me perfectly into my next point…


Life is about growth, not about progressing according to “plans.” It is about growing, step by step and day by day, into the person you were meant to be. It’s about claiming the life that is yours and yours alone, the life that can’t be rigidly planned and mapped out because it’s yet to be explored — until now.

And, spoiler alert: Growth doesn’t happen when you’re following a map, cruising along seamlessly from Point A to Point B.

Nooo way, Sweet Honey Child. Growth happens when your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and it’s 100 degrees and there’s no service on your cell phone.

You know when else growth happens? Growth happens when you take a wrong turn and for awhile you’re lost, but you keep trusting and moving forward step by step — and eventually you end up somewhere wayyyy more spectacular than you could have imagined from the get go.

If you let it, growth is what happens when life doesn’t turn out according to plan.

And so what I’m saying is that I wouldn’t give up this life of mine for anything, because without it I wouldn’t be growing into the woman I was meant to be and into my greatest potential.

Every day that my health doesn’t go according to plan, I’m learning more about how to take care of this body I’ve been given. I’m learning to recognize the miracle that the human body is, to nourish and love and appreciate it like I never have before.

Every day that I’m on my own, I’m learning more about who I am, what I want from a relationship, and what my ideal life looks like. I’m learning to become the person who will attract the man of my dreams, and that is no small feat.

Yes, each day I’m learning and growing, appreciating and trusting more than the day before.

And if that’s not growth, and if that’s not the kind of life I want to be living — then what is?


When this life is over, the question that will matter most certainly won’t be, “Did your life go as planned?”

Oh, hell no.

Instead, I imagine the questions that have mattered will be something more like this: “Did you live fully? Love fully? Fully live out the expression of who you really are? Did you take risks? Challenge yourself? Did you truly experience the good and the bad and everything in-between?”

Are you with me, homegirl?

So why this intense need to stick rigidly to our “plans,” especially when our plans are so often made up ofsomeone else’s ideas or expectations about who it is we should be or what it is we should do?


Do you hear something calling at you, calling to you?

Make no mistake about it: There is a new life, a new you, that is waiting to be stepped into. This is the voice, the song of your soul, calling you toward your wildest, greatest potential.

Another life is possible.

The only question is whether you can let go of the need for things to turn out according to plan.

Can you stop fighting? Can you loosen your grip and learn to fully, deeply trust in this life, right here, right now?

What gifts are being strewn — sprinkled — showered upon you by these plans that have gone “awry,” and most importantly: Are you open to receiving them?

With all my love,

xxx T

Article originally appeared on The Unlost.

Therese Schwenkler is the Founder, CEO, and “Marketer of Truth” at TheUnlost.com, where she provides non-sucky advice on work, love and what to do when life sucks

Click here to read Therese’s most popular articles about finding your way from crappiness… to happiness. Follow her @tschwenkler.


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