In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. —Dwight D. Eisenhower

There’s a difference between the process of planning and the plan itself. The whole point of a plan is get from the present situation to some desired destination. But as we all know, life rarely turns out the way we plan it. And if we hold too tightly to ‘the plan,’ sometimes it can actually get in the way.

If you’re taking a trip, and you plot out the route, what do you do if one of the roads is closed? You wouldn’t keep driving the predetermined route in spite of the situation; you would take a detour. The point of the initial route was to get to the destination. So if you have to take a detour, it’s not a big deal. It will still get you to where you want to go, even though it wasn’t exactly the initial plan.

In life, we have ideas of what we want to do, where we want to go, and who we want to become. And planning is valuable in getting there. It’s a sign that we’re being intentional about moving in these directions, instead of simply drifting along. It serves to give us a better grasp of the situation and results in next steps we can take. But it’s important to remember that this plan is only a tool on the journey, based on what we know at the time.

But once things change — and they usually do — it’s not wrong to reassess the plan in light of what we now know. And if the original plan no longer makes sense, there’s no shame in adjusting our course. Just like there’s no shame in taking a detour on a trip because the bridge was out.