Embrace the Randomness

Roy Gottesdiener

A few years ago, I read the book "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" and I felt it changed my life. I suddenly had it all figured out. I knew exactly where I want to be ten years from now and exactly how I am going to get there.

We all want to be happy, don't we? For me the equation was simple – follow the plan in the book = get rich = be happy.

"This year I'll do this, then two years from now I'll be there, and ten years down the line the plan will be completed". This all sounds very good, after all, we all need a reason to get up in the morning, and what could be better than having a target and a detailed plan for the next ten years which guarantees happiness at the end?

The problem is, when you keep hoping for something and living your life with the sole purpose of how to get it, you miss out a lot.

I constantly felt like what I currently have or where I currently am is not good enough, I want and need more, and this is just another step in my journey.

Basically, trying to be happy, made me unhappy.

Another realisation I had was that when you plan, it doesn't mean things will necessarily go the way you want them to or even close. Think of how you thought your life would look like five years from now and where they are now, even try thinking of the way you imagined your past week and how close to the original it was.

So, I decided to put aside my get rich plan and focus on being happy. I started reading, from positive psychology to philosophy and Buddhism, I have conducted my own mini research about happiness. I noticed that these books, despite being quite different, all mention the fact that there is so much randomness and lack of control in our lives, that all we can do to be happy is stop thinking so much about the future, and enjoy the present. That was so counter-intuitive, so the way I used to think up to that point – plan, execute, be happy at the end.

The more I thought about it, I had more and more examples of me planning my life course and how it changed drastically without me having anything to say about it.

For example, I was living in London and I came back to Israel in 2014.  After dating for a while, I felt like I just don't fit, and I would never find an Israeli partner who I can have fun with.

Worry not, I convinced myself, you are going away on your MBA soon and there you would meet your perfect non-Israeli partner, which goes perfectly with your plan of leaving Israel for good. Then, in August 2016, I went to my gym for a TRX class, which I never go to but my friend convinced me to give it a try. When I walked in, I saw this beautiful, extremely fit girl next to me. "Nice", I thought to myself, but I would never start talking to her. Guess it's a mix of being shy, thinking it's sleazy, and fearing another boring date. Then halfway through the workout, I slipped and fell (over my sweat, really elegant), and she made some comment about me being clumsy and we both started laughing.

I felt this weird click, we started talking after class, went for a drink, and a year and a half later we got married!

I can honestly say, my wife Reut is my soulmate and I could not have created a better partner myself. In fact, it's scary thinking how close I was to missing out on her. We had no mutual friends, so the only place for us to meet was at the gym. I never went to these classes, plus I had surgery the week after which means I wouldn't have gone to the gym, so it had to be that class.

She broke up with her boyfriend about a month before, so had this happened a month earlier, we would never have gone for that drink. 

And lastly, I seriously think that without me slipping and falling we wouldn't have even talked, and none of this would have happened. Such a minor incident, me going to this class at the gym, and my life now are 180 degrees different from how I planned them to be back in 2016.

I have come to realise that we don't have a lot of control, and it's not terrifying or upsetting, but I think it is liberating. Acknowledging that has helped me and I can honestly say I am much happier now that I was a few years ago. I try not to crave and think about the future too much, and just be present and enjoy the moment.

In these times, when we are graduating from our MBA, we have a lot of tough decisions to make – where to live, where to work, and we think these decisions carry a huge weight in shaping our future. That is true to some extent, but you can plan endlessly, think you got it all figured out, and then you slip at the gym, and your life takes a completely different turn. So try not to overthink, just enjoy the ride, and let randomness do the rest.