The Deferred Life Plan

Recently I read a book titled The Monk and the Riddle by Randy Komisar. I do not wish to give the book any undue credit because at best it can be described as a very mediocre piece of work but there is an interesting term which the author alludes to as the “Deferred Life Plan”. Mr. Komisar contends that most people divide their lives into two distinct parts:

Step One: Do what you have to do.

Then eventually-

Step two: Do what you want to do.

We hear different variations of this theme from childhood: Walk before you run. Work during the weekdays to enjoy the weekend. Desert is the reward for finishing your main course. And then when we grow up to be adults, in the prime of our lives we are told to work hard and ensure financial security so that we can enjoy a comfortable retirement. This notion of living for the future is one of the great travesties of life.

Ralph Waldo Emerson is often given credit for the cliché, “Life is a journey, not a destination”. In fact Emerson never wrote those exact words. What he did write was:

“To finish the moment, to find the journey’s end in every step of the road, to live the greatest number of good hours, is wisdom.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The unfortunate truth is that most people become victims of the Deferred Life Plan. When I graduate, when I get a job, when I get married, when I get promoted—-. Lost in this never-ending quest to reach our destination, life passes by and we miss out on the real purpose of life which is to enjoy the journey. There is nothing wrong with setting goals but they should not be the destination; they should just be our guideposts to help us along our journey. Most people become so obsessed with the goal (destination) that they forget to focus on the journey when in fact the journey should in itself be the destination. Living with the desperation to reach the destination strips us of the joy of “now”.  The joy of smelling the flowers; the joy of gazing with curiosity in a moonlit night; the joy of spending precious moments with loved ones without looking at the watch. Even life’s moments of despair and heartache are a part of the script of life. Everything that happens in our life happens for a reason and sometimes that means we must face the heartaches in order to experience joy. Life would be incomplete without those chapters.

We all have goals. Success is in falling in love with the journey of achieving the goals. Fear is the opposite of this love. Fear of failure prevents people to embark on the journey. They are left with hollow goals which are never achieved because they never dared to embark on the journey.Remaining in one’s safe cocoon, being fearful of the unknown, not undertaking the journey are some of the surefire ways to stunt one’s growth and damage one’s self confidence. We need to embrace and celebrate our present. Make the most of it while steadfastly advancing towards our set goal. Waking up each morning to make today a glorious chapter in our journey of life. The naysayers will always be there to fan the fears. They are to be ignored. We fight our own battles. We decide our own destiny. In the journey of life sometimes we fall. We get hurt and wounded but it is the scars from these wounds that make us fearless.

“Success is a journey not a destination. The doing is more important than the outcome.” Arthur Ashe.

Comments (21)
  • Yes very true. We need to change the community level mindset. May be we could teach our kids accordingly to help them find ways to relax their mind throughout their journey in life and enjoy the most important components of a human life.
    Dr. Aleem

    • Mash Allah!!! I love your writing

  • Thanks a lot for writing the article.I do agree it will not work if we give up. It takes a long time to change some bad habits that are old. Monitor our bad habits regularly so that they do not recur in any way. Avoid those who can bring back our old habits.

  • This COVID-19 pandemic has pointed one thing, we are obsessed with so many things that can be easily cut down from our life. If we can live like this life would be simpler, happier and more joyful.

  • Your blog is like a fresh breath of air! Reading it, I got recharged! The best quote of the year is “Waking up each morning to make today a glorious chapter in the journey of our life”. Thanks for the inspiration! Kudos!

  • “It is sad to see that most people spend days into planning their trips and holidays, but they don’t even spend an hour to plan and review their lives.”
    The most important things are to enjoy every moments of our life and help people to make them smiling.
    Nice evaluation.

  • An excellent article to understand ourselves, our guideposts to move forward for goal achieving, and finally enjoy everything achieved.

  • Very interesting article on the aim of life.
    Thanks for sharing your views.
    Habib E Khoda

  • On point Arshi Bhai! I also find it very important to say that its never too late to undertake this journey. If you were fearful or cautious earlier in life you can throw caution to the winds and take that dream journey later on life when not so much is at peril.

    Thank you for reminding us of this perspective.

    • I enjoyed reading an excellent article. Life is always unending journey for every one, every dreamer. Thanks a bunche for sharing it.

  • Once again, Arshi Haider has penned an excellent essay on life’s goal vs journey. I enjoyed reading it. Thank you Mr. Haider for sharing this nice piece.
    Dr. Sadiq Bhuiyan

  • Givers always enjoy more than takers in this transitory world. Do what you love to do has now become much more prominent sayings than we were used to experience in our childhood. The gradual shift and change in society/family values would give a lot of hope for millennials and Gen X with positive frame of mind and support. I had a training session with LFG trust, UK at around 14 years ago, “the pink ribbon”. We were taught how small one’s life span could be if we substract sleep, bio, food, duties and responsibilities. The real worth of life is heavily dependent on self-fulfillment, chasing your dream but not sacrificing your family, fun and values, making life journey with story-telling, and be reminded by others in your absence…

    Thank you Sir for your words of encouragement and positivity.

    Much appreciated, regards.

  • In the “Deferred Life Plan” by Randy Komisar, the author examined ‘Do what you have to do’ and ‘Do what you want to do’ in Step one and Step two respectively in one’s life reminds us the necessity of evaluating the influence of the phenomenon in our lifetime. ‘Do what you have to do’- is somewhat a compulsion, a limitation and an obligation in setting up one’s aim of life leading to final destination. On the contrary, ‘Do what you want to do’- is a persuasion, an opportunity and the options to undertake new journey. Each journey has a goal by itself, a destination.

    In general, we are very much rigid on our set goals- the Destination. We do not enjoy our present to insure the future. We do not dare to undertake new challenges to explore the opportunities fearing unknown and uncertainty.

    There are numerous journey in one’s life. Some end with success and many terminate in failure. This is the reality but it’s not necessarily the failure to reach one’s final Destination. Happiness and sorrows go side by side. Accepting this truth as usual we don’t suffer from depression rather we enjoy our time, our present.

    I thank the author very much for bring forward a very important aspect of life educating us to take new challenges and enjoy the present.

  • Fear of the unknown can be crippling. Very time-appropriate blog.

  • In most of the cases we don’t think our own power of souls. Take initiative , consequences come, we tend to give up most of time. But we don’t think that situation and people not our control. Only thing is our control is our mindset and attitude. What ever the crisis is, we shouldn’t give up any time. If we can teach this simple lesson to our children, they can be happy at least. So being a senior citizen it’s our responsibility now.

    Thanks for sharing this very important issue.

    • Sir, I read your blog and precious guidelines you mentioned in your every writing. I feel thankful that I had a chance to work with you directly under your supervision because I have learned a lot which are now applying in my current carrer. I have learned not only professional staffs but also management of both personal and professional life. Thanks for your writing and hope we will read many more writing from you in coming days. Thank you Sir!

  • “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”-John Lennon

  • When I was reading this blog, I was thinking Arshi Haider sir might be written this blog keep in mind to me. This content is matched completely with my life. Perhaps this blog is matched more than 95% peoples in our society. Very true and useful blog

    When my age was 8-9 years, one of friend had a football. He was all in all in the football team. As per his wish he could include and exclude anyone. Sometimes, I did not include in team as it was fully his discretion. At that time I wished if I would have a football, then I would be the happiest person in the world, no could exclude me from football team and I would be the team leader of football team and I could do whatever I like.

    When I joined in job, I wished if I would have an own apartment wherever the location and whatever the apartment size. After passing few years in job, I owned an apartment. Then one point, it seemed to me that my apartment size is too small. Then I stared desire to get bigger size apartment. Inside of my mind, starting unhappiness until get the bigger size apartment. Now I have comparatively bigger apartment than earlier one, but now I want apartment in bigger size with good location.

    When I had no car, I wished if I would have a car then I can go whatever I like. Now I have a car but sometimes I wished to change the model of car

    Let’s come in corporate life, in corporate life, there are always some assignment and that is obvious in corporate life. Sometimes, I thought after completing such and such assignments, I will be relaxed and do enjoy. Sometimes, I thought when Eid vacation will come, I will enjoy. But when Eid vacation come then again start thinking for corporate assignments.

    Actually, we have to segregate the corporate/professional life and personal/family life. Whatever happened in corporate/business life, its affects should not be in personal life. The span of the life is very short. It is not that we earn wealth now and enjoy in retire life by this wealth. We should enjoy our life from today not tomorrow. All time regardless of good time or bad time.

    After reading this blog, I am inspired to change myself and I am sure this blog will help me lot to change myself. From now on, I will not set any wealth/financial destination/goal. I will read this blog again when I feel, I am changed from my decision. I am grateful to Arshi Haider Sir for writing such a nice and practical blog. Happy New Year to all.

  • I always find your writings inspiring and exceptionally insightful. Thank for sharing your thoughts with us.

  • An excellent article! It will change the perspective of life!

  • Thanks for reminding again. Frequently come around with the message yet every time i see it, find it new, refreshing. Journeying into the mad race for destination so many of us get tired, fatigued and lifeless.
    Whole culture around us is build on the premise of “`life as a goalpost that saturate ourselves to live the very life. When people of your stature share such thought it heals the wound, helps navigating tiring time and a silver lining in the despair. Thank you again.

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