I genuinely am intrigued by the whole concept of mindfulness . I think it is brilliant for coping with anxiety and truthfully it has been a cornerstone for allowing me to heal from previous events , people and situations . Staying present in the moment ; the classic mindfulness rule of The Five senses which I referred to in my article ‘strategies for tempering expectations without hindering the joy of Optimism’ are very helpful when dealing with anxiety attacks.
Hence, for someone like me who is still learning the art of mindfulness discussing the Odyssey plan it really is quite ironic. I was actually listening to an Ali Abdaal podcast and it inspired me to write this article.
Why was I inspired? I guess with the conventional 3 or 5 year plans it just heightens my anxiety as it is looking into a future which gives rise to so many hopes and expectations – and as I explored in the happiness debt an excess of expectations is harmful for your self-growth; especially if these expectations are not met. Also, its life. Shit happens (sorry for the language), but its true! So many circumstances can just block the trajectory that you had planned and result in a complete lack of motivation . No disrespect to the practise of mindfulness either but in order to grow further I also feel like I need to know what and where I envision myself to be. Hence, the Odyssey plan , seems pretty cool to me.
The Odyssey Plan . When you hear this the first inference you will jump to make is of Homer’s epic Greek poem which follows Odysseus , King of Ithaca and his perilous journey home to the island of Ithaca after the Trojan War in Troy ; which Homer addressed in the Iliad (another epic poem ). Odysseus was assumed dead; during his absence ; his wife Penelope and son Telemachus had to contend with a group of unruly suitors who were competing for Penelope's hand in marriage. Therefore, Odyssey denotes a long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune .
Our own Odyssey years are defined as between 22-30 years old and why so? This is because we develop an internal compass for making decisions ; learning how to say no , fearing less about what others think as most people are too busy thinking about themselves . This rite of passage helps us grow stronger and as we emerge from our youth dazzled by possibilities and the fear of missing out (FOMO- very common reason to why so many cannot deactivate their social media accounts) we learn that committing ourselves to the few things we love is a sort of liberation.
Bill Burnet and Dave Evans wrote in ‘Designing Your life’ a 5 year plan which has three alternative versions for the next five years of our lives. Therefore, it takes into account the context of the word Odyssey; life itself can present changes in circumstances and various obstacles; hence the plan helps overcome this universal truth. Also as I myself ; close to turning 24 on April the 7th, am in my Odyssey years as we say , this plan helps support my internal growth.
It essentially is comprised of 3 components :
Your current plan which is based on an existing idea for how life would look like in the next 5 years
What you would do if plan A did not happen
What you would do if money and time and society had no influence over your life’s trajectory
My favourite is obviously 3, haha. My Odyssey plan for this would probably align to becoming a full time Humanitarian ; do professional photography ; visit various Safari Parks and focus on nature preservation and maybe become a model . Coming back to reality , however , I really do not have the time, the money or the societal backing to do all of this at once.
It’s interesting though because through reflecting on 3 ; I have made baby steps to achieving these goals. Writing articles for Kind to Mind and Team leading for Human Appeal has allowed me to access humanitarian activism , I know it isn’t a full time commitment as I am also an Optometrist but what I do for these charities is fulfilling as I am not disregarding my core desire in life at all.
Most importantly , what I like with the Odyssey Plan is how it even has a part 2 which helps put into place mechanisms to prevent the ‘happiness debt’ as I coin it. It is a safety blanket after all.
So I guess, if you want to challenge the cliché plans that exist , get your gratitude journal out and WRITE . Manifest it – as Confucius states ‘He who says he can , and he who says he can’t are both usually right’ – the biggest barrier for achieving anything is your mindset, so believe!
For those of you who are strict followers of mindfulness; I completely understand how this post deviates from your practise , hence please keep practising what you are doing as I really do understand that we all have different mechanisms to heal and grow; and that is absolutely fine!