Layoffs are in the air. Corporations are cutting their bottom lines. Boards are feeling pressure to make changes. Must be Christmas time.
I was talking to a good friend who recently suffered a significant career setback. He had really big plans and all indicators were that “things were going really well”. Then one day, BAM%$#%, he was fired. It was a total surprise and seems to be a very extreme outcome. There was no opportunity given to fix things, no opportunity to work it out. It is just over.
In speaking with another friend, his business had suffered a drastic change in course. His largest customer cut their budget with no notice. He had to let people go on the project as a result and all of a sudden his business is at risk. Things were going great and now, he’s figuring out how to survive. From making money, to losing money, just like that.
Well, that didn’t work out either.
These conversations have got me thinking about how many times my plans have changed. How often my plans don’t work out? Or rather, things work out differently than I planned?
I don’t know about you, but it seems that most of my plans never work out like I planned.
My career hasn’t gone as I planned. I quit my first sales job before they were going to fire me. In my second sales job my boss ended up going to jail, and one other guy and I ended up taking over what was left. That didn’t work out. In my third sales job I did really well, and I got recruited for my fourth job and did really well there too.
I decided to start a software company. We raised a bunch of money, got some early customers, and things were looking great. Then the dotcom bubble burst. We were upside down on our valuation, and not done with our product. No one would touch us. Our plans didn’t work out.
We had to go into bootstrap mode. Getting really creative we reinvented our company and our products multiple times over 5 years, and things were on the rise once again. Another big opportunity presented itself, it looked like this time it was going to be different. We were going to make it. I was going to make it, and for a few weeks, I was very wealthy on paper. That was in 2008. The market crashed and I found myself yet again just trying to survive. I did. I survived another 7 years working like crazy to make something happen. There are so many stories to unpack here, but let’s just summarize it this way, things didn’t work out.
- I hired someone to help run my business, that didn’t work out.
- I hired someone different to help grow my business, that didn’t work out.
- My largest investor hired someone to run my business, that didn’t work out.
- I have been sued thirteen times, if I am counting correctly. Didn’t plan for any of those.
At some point I decided not to defer my dreams anymore. I bought a restaurant and started a jazz club. After 7 years, things didn’t work out. Along the way I started a nonprofit organization to support jazz. It didn’t work out as planned, but it’s still going. It’s different.
I was going to buy our building, but that didn’t work out.
We lost our business, our income. We almost declared bankruptcy, and lost our home. We had a friend who bought a house and offered to rent it to us. Turns out that he was a victim to a bit of a scam, and we were evicted. It didn’t work out.
We closed the restaurant. We moved the nonprofit to another location and partnered with someone to open a new venue. That didn’t work out. The city sold that building and we lost our lease. Things didn’t work out.
I went to work for Microsoft. I did really well in my first role. I changed roles. But that didn’t work out. I went to work for AWS. I did really well in my first role. I changed roles. Covid happened. That didn’t work out.
Stock market? 2022 hasn’t gone as planned.
More often than not, it hasn’t worked out, at least not like I planned. I still get up every day and make plans.
I like making plans and I like setting goals. I’ve hit some of them but most I haven’t. It makes me wonder if it really matters at all? Maybe it depends on “what” I plan?
I’ve planned trips. I’ve planned vacations and those have gone well. I have planned family get togethers. Sometimes small things, and sometimes big things.
I made plans to start a Jazz Club, and I did. I made plans to play music, and I have. I made plans to be a musician and I am. I made plans to teach music and I do.
I started my business, and we were in business for 16 years. We sold millions of dollars in products and services. We even went public. What an experience? I traveled the world and made friends I still have today.
I made plans to help my dad start a blog. He wrote thousands of articles over 20 years. I made plans to record videos with my dad sharing stories of his life, and surviving the war. About being a burn victim, overcoming his disabilities? I have 100s of hours recorded. I made plans to have old family photos scanned and we talked about them and labeled them. I’m making plans to publish my dad’s books.
I’m making plans with my daughter to publish a card game. We are. I’m making plans to produce more music. I am. I’m making plans to publish my dad’s books. I am. I’m writing a book. Draft is done. I keep making plans.
I keep making plans.
“How do you deal with the disappointment?” My friend asked. I guess I don’t know any other way. I have gotten used to things not working out like I planned. I keep going. Things have not worked out for me as I expected them to, nor even as I had hoped. In some ways they are better. In some they are worse. But I am still here, and still making plans.
I got together with some local businesses and started a jazz festival. That has gone better than I planned. We started a blues festival. Better too. I think we’ve done more than 20 now, in different cities. Different ways. I’ve learned what to do, and what not to do. It’s good.
I’ve never looked at the statistics of how many things I plan to do well versus not. I think it’s a pretty large percentage that don’t go as planned.
Why make plans if they don’t work out? What’s the point?
One of the things that my friend said to me I found very odd. He has gotten every job he’s ever applied for, and it sounds like each of his jobs have gone very well. He has managed to do very well for himself. We are about the same age and this is the first time things haven’t gone well. Wow. I can’t relate to that one. I must live in “opposite world.”
But then again, I have had some amazing experiences. I continue to meet amazing people. And I feel like what I do is important to them, to my friends, and my community.
I have learned that it’s worth the disappointment. It’s worth the discouragement. It’s even worth the battles with depression. It’s perspective. It’s how I choose to look at it, and accept things.
I decided at some point to no longer care about how I measure up to others. Let them chase their success, while I define my own.
I’m still here. I can pay my bills. I play music. I teach my students of all ages how to play piano, how to improvise. Our nonprofit is still here, in a venue that sounds amazing, making music. We are looking to expand our programming, yet again. Hopefully this time it will go better than we plan.
Depending on how you look at it, I’m a failure, or I have succeeded and I continue to succeed.
I have learned to accept that things often don’t go as planned, but more often than not it’s worth the effort to have the experience and meet the people along the way.
It seems that we make plans, stuff happens, and we adjust, we make new plans. And that cycle repeats, over and over again.
Time to get going and make some more plans.
6 thoughts on ““Well that didn’t work out.” When plans change…”
Dear Danny, I loved your candid yet optimistic post and can so relate to the underlying tone of thankfulness for a life fully lived. That I can say about how all my plans and things that didn’t work out. At the end of the day, I am most thankful for the music. The music that touches the soul. Lisa
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Wow, Thanks Danny for some more sharing on your remarkable journey. I can assure you that the whole valley recognizes how remarkable you and your whole foamily are. I think the whole theme would be such a good topic (and use as an example) to people who are just about ready to hit the job market; graduate High school / College! It is the type of reality that is not touched upon in our education system and we would be much better off it it was.
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Thanks for sharing! I feel like an extra in this movie 🙂
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Danny, I just saw a movie where an uncle says to a young artist. “Art breaks your heart. Let it. It’s worth it.” You are an artist. I know what it’s like. Our journeys parallel on many levels. Adjust, and move on. Have goals. The best thing is let your journey toward those goals surprise you. We’re all improvising here.
Danny, amazing resilience! Thank you for being so candid and for giving so much back to the community, despite setbacks.
Danny, you have succeeded in sharing the gift of yourself without reservation. I think this is because you keep reaching for what you want in life. I appreciate you, your family and your willingness to make more plans. Keep going!