michelle-allen-2You can’t really plan where you end up – but you can plan where you want to go.

We’re all taught, even prompted, to always be one step ahead of where we currently are. In middle school – are you ready for high school? In high school – where are you going to college? In college – what’s your major? And always the inevitable – what do you want to be when you grow up? It almost makes it impossible to think about living in the moment we are in.

I remember until my senior year of college I always concentrated on what was ahead of me. That is, until that fateful drive home after my graduation when I had SEVEN hours to sit in the car by myself and think, and for one of the first times in 21 years I felt empty and alone. I had lined up a great internship for the summer at a bank in Bar Harbor as a Marketing Assistant which was perfect, I mean; it was my major, so it seemed like a no-brainer. Instead of being excited that I knew my next move I felt overwhelmed about whether or not I had made the right decision.

Until that car ride home everything I ever thought about my life seemed easy, like an inevitable step – everything I wanted to do, who I wanted to be, and where I wanted to go, but in that moment, as I tuned the road noise out, I wasn’t even sure if any of it made sense anymore.

The next few years I went through a weird stage in my life – I started and finished that internship, moved back home, landed a couple unfulfilling positions in my field, I even thought about moving to South America to work at an animal refuge (I know!) all because I just wasn’t feeling “whole.” And then, it happened, I seriously had an epiphany – I was spending so much time trying to plan where I wanted to go that I had actually stopped moving forward at all; I was treading water.

Here’s where they start playing the sappy music in the background like a Full House episode and the morale of the story finally comes together: Stop thinking about what lies ahead of you – you’ll never be ready for everything that comes your way and you will most certainly not always have the right answer. In my experience planning won’t ever hurt you, but if you focus too much on the plan it tends to hinder actually living – which sometimes has a way of making your life more enriched. I like to think that most of the time I follow some pretty basic “life rules:”

1. ALWAYS trust your gut instinct – even if it means you have to take a step back
2. Life is a journey – allow yourself to have ups and downs
3. Never settle – you live one time, no one is going to be better at living your life than you are
4. No matter who you are or where you come from – the world is a big place – go out there and leave your mark – no matter how big or small.