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Travel to a dream destination? A brave leap into a new career? A major celebration with family and friends? Whatever your plans were for 2020, back on New Year’s Eve, I can guarantee that they did not involve social distancing, economic uncertainty, and weeks of being stuck in your home.

Across the world, the covid-19 pandemic has thrown lives into complete disarray and triggered feelings of anxiety, frustration and grief. However, amidst the emotional and logistical turmoil, the pandemic has also sent an undeniable reminder to humanity: life is not linear. And, for your happiness and emotional well-being, that may be one of the most important concepts you can understand.

To help me illustrate my point, let’s start at the beginning … i.e. the very beginning.

You see, birth plans are all the rage now. When I had my children, at the turn of the millennium, it was becoming popular to choose a birthplace, position (and sometimes date) of your soon-to-arrive baby. These days, I understand that the idea of a well-researched, well-documented birth plan is ubiquitous.

Of course, it’s a wise idea to be prepared for childbirth — we aren’t regularly exposed to the birth experiences of other women, as we were in the times of small villages and tight-knit communities. However, there is one important caveat I always share with young mothers-in-waiting painstakingly preparing the details of their imminent delivery.

Life is not linear. It often has its own plans.

Straight lines are a human concept. In fact, the easiest way to determine a man-made environment from a natural one is to look for straight sides and perfectly cut angles. And it’s easy to see how this linear mindset has invaded, not just our environments, but also our approach to life.

For instance, these days it’s not enough to have a goal; a target; an aspiration. We are also unconsciously bound to the idea that we must create an exact plan on how to get there. A logical plan. A reasoned plan. An acceptable plan that ticks all the boxes and, preferably, has been tried and tested by others before us. A plan that takes us from A to Z in the shortest possible fashion; in a straight line.

And here’s the biggest challenge with that: we can become attached to our plan. We can begin to believe that our plan is not just a wish list of events and achievements – a preference for what may unfold. Instead, we begin to view this plan as a definitive road map of how things should happen; are going to happen; must happen in order for us to achieve the goal we desire.

For many people, this attachment to the ‘right plan’ is automatic and unconscious. Even the most self-aware and adaptable among us can fall prey to a process we believe should be happening. And, sadly, this attitude can undermine our level of energy, enthusiasm and fulfillment, by:

  • blinding us to opportunities and possibilities that are great for us, but that aren’t obviously aligned with our plan.
  • compelling us to waste energy chasing dead end options or pushing against unripe opportunities (because we believe these to be necessary to our plan).
  • stimulating feelings of disappointment, anger or self-admonishment if we don’t, or can’t, follow the plan as we had intended.

As recent months have shown us, even the most robust plans can be upended; even the best laid paths can be fraught with detours and dead ends. But this doesn’t mean you won’t achieve your goals. More probably, it means that the route to accomplishment lies in a direction you had not accounted for.

Life is not linear and, for a happier life, I encourage you to recognise and accept this vital concept. Build adaptability into your dreams and schemes. Avoid regarding your future projections as defined personal strategies, carved in stone. Instead, view your plans as ever-evolving ‘rough drafts’, etched lightly in pencil and ready to be enhanced by the glow of possibility, or redirected by the winds of change.

Kim Forrester is a mother, nature lover, holistic wellbeing advocate and kindness enthusiast. As an award-winning author, educator and consultant, she combines cutting edge science with spiritual philosophy to inspire holistic wellbeing and fullness of living. Born in New Zealand, Kim has lived in several countries - now in Singapore.

Looking for some drops of goodness in your day? Visit www.kimforrester.net for a range of content and consultations that will help you thrive in life. Plus, check out the Eudaemonia podcast on your favourite podcast app for thought-provoking conversations about the traits and practices that can inspire you to flourish.


6 August 2020
Great article. Thank for sharing and certainly food for thought!


3 August 2020
Several times each week, normally around sunset, we are visited at our home by our mischievous primate cousins - the macaques of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. This week, one particularly cheeky girl sat on the wall above our pond and gleefully started eating the orchids I had recently planted. My husband’s reaction was swift, and understandable. “Grab the hose! Get her away from there!” However, my automatic reaction was more benign and more resigned. I was happy to welcome this beautiful creature to my garden and – as far as I was concerned – if I was going to plant delicious orchids in the natural roaming space of the macaques, I had to be prepared for them to become someone’s evening snack. read more of my story here: https://www.expatchoice.asia/services/how-create-wellbeing-home