I will prepare and someday my chance will come.
~Abraham Lincoln

I’ve always been a planner. But I learned years ago that staying conscious in the moment better paves the way to our evolution. This might seem contradictory, but the truth is, our soul always knows what it needs and no planning is actually necessary to meet its requests. You just have to show up and listen to the wisdom within. You see, there is a big difference between preparing and planning and your evolution depends on knowing how these concepts differ.

I can’t remember the last time I wrote a “to-do” list. I used to write them daily, crossing off items I’d accomplished, then adding more each day. I can recall a daily ritual of making this list, but I also remember feeling frustrated that I never got to the end of it. This caused perpetual stress and eventually, I ditched list-making altogether, other than the occasional grocery items I want to remember to purchase. Even now, I generally shop without one.

We tend to plan because we want to make our human condition easier. We want to control as much as we can to minimize distress. But is planning the same thing as preparing? I’d say no.

In my April newsletter, I mentioned a question by an unknown author that struck a deep chord:

“What if… everything you are experiencing is preparing you for what you asked for?”

In essence, every single event, experience, emotion, reaction, and perception leads to the next. Even the most difficult or uncomfortable situations are seasoning us so that our future is prepared for our growth. As we expand our consciousness to see how this works, we can better appreciate that life’s challenges are actually also our soul’s best gifts. When you think of it this way, you can realize that our struggles enhance our future just as much as our celebrations. Each and every experience makes us who we are. They prepare us for each step of our soul’s journey and without each step, vital aspects of our existence would be missing.

Since early April, I’ve undergone quite a leap in my own awareness. It’s as if my life story was shown to me on a giant screen so I could see how each trial and tribulation led me to the next triumph, success, or connection with another soul. I now understand why the Universe led me on what seemed to be a wild goose chase through the Midwest (Indiana and Missouri), then plopped me in North Carolina—a place I NEVER thought of living prior to a glitch in completing my clinical hours for licensure when I was doing my post-doctoral training. I can now also very clearly see that had my father not had his accident when I was nine years old, I would have never ended up where I am, nor who I am today. His accident triggered a series of other events that I can now track as part of my own soul’s evolution.

The soul’s path molds the essence of who we are. We accumulate experiences and perceptions along the way that form and shape us. Often, this includes wounds we need to heal—which creates more experiences that influence our development. As humans, we have free will, which dictates how we manage, navigate, heal and evolve beyond our obstacles. Sometimes we trip over the same kinds of things over and over again because we haven’t learned from or outgrown our old ways. But when we hunker down and choose to evolve beyond those challenges, we clear our path, lighten our soul’s load and find our true self. This is radiant living; this is what I mean by soul health.

Both as a human and a psychologist, I know that learning about our discomfort is our best education in knowing how to move ahead. Our conscious evolution requires us to learn—to prepare for each moment. This is why I always ask clients what they are supposed to learn from their experiences. Some don’t want to learn—to think something good could come from their discomfort. But soon, they realize that the ability to learn and evolve outweighs their uncomfortable circumstances.

Despite what we might want to believe, everything does happen for a reason. This is why I encourage others to look for the opportunity to learn, even in the most challenging situations.

Many of you may know that the Chinese symbol for crisis is often interpreted as “opportunity” depending on how it is used in a sentence. John F. Kennedy made this idea popular by saying “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word, ‘crisis’. One brush stroke stands for danger, the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger—but recognize the opportunity.” Unfortunately, his interpretation wasn’t quite right. While the Chinese word for crisis does, indeed, translate to “danger”, the symbol doesn’t exactly mean “opportunity” when it stands alone. Instead, it more directly translates to “a crucial point when something begins to change.”

The truth is, the only absolute constant in our lives is that they will change. No moment stays the same as the next—no experience is exactly like any previous one. We try to control change by planning ahead. However, the reality is that each moment prepares us for the next, not by making a “to-do” list, but by whatever we learn from our experience of each moment. Therefore, preparation through what we learn and experience each second is what helps us through the “crucial points” of inevitable change.

Breathing prepares us for the next breath. Every thought builds on the next one. Every movement leads to the one that comes after. All of this is such an unconscious process that we don’t realize we are preparing ourselves all the time for what is coming next. Once conscious, we can see the 3-D nature of our experiences so we can string it all together, just like was presented to me over the last few months.

As a result of seeing my soul’s path play out in front of me over the last few months, I now appreciate life that much more. Each step of the way served as a catalyst for the next. Each relationship, each job, each move… everything.

What would change if you realized each moment was preparing you for what you’ve always wanted—or needed as part of your evolution? Take a look at your own string of events through life. You will notice many things that you wish you could change, while others went exactly as you wanted. When you look at what you would like to have done differently, you evolve—even if through thought—to a new you. By changing your mind about what you would’ve done in the past, you prepare yourself for a better future. Our regrets become our teachers and catalysts for change just as much as our successes. By appreciating both your challenges and successes, you realize that each served to create the essence of who you are.

See how this works?

William Shakespeare said, “All things are ready, if our mind be so.” By committing to your own conscious evolution—learning what you can in each moment—you will always be prepared for the future.