Life Rarely Goes as Planned

healthy longevity place planning Jun 19, 2024

The top boxer, Mike Tyson, famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” On the surface, his comment is an indictment of the value of planning. Why bother spending the time to plan if the realities of life will ultimately upend it?

Sure enough, life rarely goes as planned, both positively and negatively. Career trajectories are often far more winding than upward-sloping, and relationships can behave much the same way.

The longer the time horizon and the more complex the environment, the greater the odds of being surprised by the result.

If things often don’t go as planned, why bother with planning?


Mike Tyson said, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” Does that make planning worthless? (Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash)


Why Plan?

Typically, there is a relationship between the importance and volatility of an outcome and willingness to plan. If the outcome is trivial – like figuring out what to wear – it probably doesn’t necessitate much-advanced planning. Similarly, spending time planning is a waste if an outcome is important but certain. However, if an outcome is important but can influenced by your behaviors, planning takes on particular significance.

The exercise of planning helps you think through the details to understand what truly matters. The process reveals risks in your plan. Planning tends to surface alternatives (Plan B!) that allow you to move more quickly and nimbly than otherwise.

Take the case of financial planning, a commonly accepted practice. With people living longer and greater responsibility falling on the individual to be financially secure, it is wise to spend energies to plan for a healthy financial future. This process often involves goal setting, a dose of financial realities, behavior modification (esp. on the expenses front) and adjusting to the plan as life unfolds. The time and investment millions of people make is a trade with the perceived and often realized benefit of greater financial security and peace of mind later in life.


Financial planning is an accepted practice given the benefits; place-based decisions may carry equal or greater significance - hence the opportunity for place planning (Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash)


Emergence of Place Planning

Like financial planning, place planning is a discipline of rigorous thinking about one’s life but in the domain of where to live and how best to engage where one lives. It incorporates a number of factors, both external and personal, to evaluate and optimize a key area of life that is foundational for healthy longevity.

Place planning optimizes the present while pivoting to new solutions as life, with its inevitable surprises, unfolds. Particularly as life transitions unfold – a growing nest, an empty nest, retirement, health issues – changes with place often follow.


For sound decision making, you need to be mindful of the things you don't know you don't know (Source: Open Visual Thinkery)


Watch Out for the Pitfalls of Planning, Including Overconfidence

Advanced planning is fraught with challenges, especially given our world's complexity. We are subject to unforeseen circumstances, including external factors such as climate change, economic shifts, and politics, as well as personal factors such as health issues, family emergencies, and other personal crises.  We may lack key information (“garbage in, garbage out”) and underappreciate elements that we don’t know enough about.

However, based on our behaviors, we can avoid certain mistakes. We need to be particularly aware of overconfidence, especially in our ability to control or predict outcomes. For example, more than three-quarters of people want to age in place, yet less than 5% of homes are suitable for people with moderate mobility difficulties. Overconfidence in one’s particular situation may lead to a faulty plan.

Another area to watch out for is cognitive bias. Observing other people’s behaviors or outcomes and equating them to your situation can under-assess risk. For example, just because your friend Sally has avoided major health risks doesn’t mean that will be your plight. Such positive selection or confirmation bias can skew planning and decision-making.


Don’t Get Caught Naked

Warren Buffet, the legendary investor and one of the world’s richest men, famously said, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who has been swimming naked." His point is that when the conditions are perfect, the benefits of planning are not observable. It’s only when conditions change – a certain outcome in our world – that the benefits of preparation are seen. For the big decisions in life, including as it relates to place, don’t get caught naked.



 Take the Right Place, Right Time Assessment

Are you in the right place for right now? This quick assessment will reveal opportunities to improve your life.
Take Assessment ➔

Subscribe to The Blog


We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.

Order the Book:

Right Place, Right Time.


Order Now ➔