There is an exercise in corporate training called “My Window,” which is given by trainers for personal planning and visioning.
I had first taken this exercise as a student many years back at a conference sponsored by a multinational company. We students were given a sheet of paper each, with a blank rectangle on the center, which is the window. Inside this rectangle, we were asked to draw the things we wanted to see and achieve in the next several years — our dreams, aspirations, the things we wished for, etc. I don’t remember how my drawing looked like, but I enjoyed the activity much, being a meticulous planner (some would even use the term “OC” on me). Not surprisingly, my drawing wasn’t far my co-participants’, who drew houses with picket fences, stick figures of happy families, drawings representing successful careers, and even some material possessions.
It’s an effective exercise, I thought to myself. And the drawings, I believe, are a good guide that could be checked and reflected on once in a while. No wonder why some people even frame them for their offices.
I didn’t get to keep my drawing, but I clearly kept in mind the things I wanted, keeping an imaginary window in my mind. I would think about this from time to time. Nevertheless, when I am in deep thought and of need of inspiration, I enjoy looking out of my bedroom window. Before another house occupied the back lot, I had a spectacular view. I had the very calming view of vacant lots, which had sprawling, short wild grass. During the rainy season, some of these empty properties would even turn into virtual lakes and ponds, where, after a downpour, a number of birds would play and look for food. Meanwhile, on new year’s eve, I enjoy the breathtaking view of fireworks from the houses nearby, as well as those from a number of establishments.
While the view has now been “obstructed”, I still enjoy looking out of my window to think. From time to time, I would even have the pleasure of listening to our neighbors play classical pieces on their piano, which reminds me of the days when I still played the piano for hours.
While drawing windows and having imaginary windows are a good, I realize that at this point, I would rather look at my real window.
From high school up to the first years in the professional world, I had a very clear vision of what I always wanted — and I realized practically each goal that I had set to achieve. I surpassed every hurdle. I conquered. And I was thankful, because my clear vision and direction had helped.
But there are times when things don’t work out as expected, points when all the best plans still fail. And for a time, I was disillusioned and discouraged. Confused. I endlessly asked myself many questions: Is this what I really want? Will this truly make me happy? Am I realizing my life’s purpose by doing this or that? Am I getting closer to my goals and dreams? Why am I doing this?
And as the old song asks, do you know where you’re going to? Do you like the things that life is showing you?
I had all the symptoms of a quarter life crisis, and I was not happy with my very own plans, even if I achieved much. There was a great deal of frustration with how a number of things and yes, even people turned out.
My unhappiness and restlessness hounded me, so I recoursed to confronting and answering my questions, after some period of initial denial. I realized that as we grow and we mature, our definitions of happiness, security, and contentment may change. Our very own dreams and preferences change. The people we encounter along the journey change too. A good and wise friend of mine also says that while we achieve certain dreams, we may be called to be there only for a limited time, as we enter different seasons in our lives that will bring us closer to greater goals and happiness. Hence, it was important to keep moving and continuing the life-long journey. Most importantly, I realized, God may be leading us to a different path. Oftentimes, these are paths that we are usually hesitant or afraid to take. Yet surprisingly they turn out to be much better paths after all — paths we are really meant or destined to take after all.
Having answered my questions, and having a clearer vision of myself I made a stand. I made my important decisions, the most evident of which was I made a major career move that was very much out of my comfort zone. And I initially found myself in path I totally unfamiliar and unexpected — a road that contains many unknown surprises.
While I was on the edge of making a decision, I was somewhat disappointed over what I perceived was a failure in planning — and to think that I’m a good planner! But I’ve made my leap of faith, and I am standing by my decision because at the end of the day — at the end of each day — I know what I am doing. I know what I am going for, knowing what everything really means now. With faith and much contemplation, I also realize that God’s “worst“ plans are much better than our best plans. So as long as I’ve done my best, and worked with all faith and fervor I have nothing to complain, for at the end of it all, He is the better architect.
To a large extent, I still don’t know what is in store for me. But everyday has been a true blessing and a pleasant surprise in big and small ways. I’ve stopped drawing windows in my mind. I’ve stopped planning too much.
Instead, I’ve learned to take one day at a time, to live the moment, be happy, choosing to look at my real window to hear the birds playing, hear my neighbor playing Bach and Mozart, and hear the real, beautiful music that each day gives.