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120+ powerful quotes on the pointlessness of planning

Updated: Nov 30, 2022

Feat. writers, wrestlers, movie stars, and more

Should you take your plans with a grain of salt? Yes, say several experts.
Should you take your plans with a grain of salt? Yes, say several experts.

Image: frimufilms | Freepik

Almost every expert on Earth recommends and raves about planning, and Google is full of articles that have compiled countless quotes on its merits.

How about a collection of anti-planning quotes for a change?

I’ve always been curious about what some of our greatest minds and influential personalities have to offer on this subject. Especially when the electricity at my home would conk off without a moment’s concern for my to-do list. Or when I’d fall sick on the night before a picnic. Or when I wonder how I ended up writing a book at the age of 30 instead of 40 as I had planned. (Buy/download, read, and review PiKu & ViRu here; it’s FREE on Kindle Unlimited!)

Of course, the key is balance and flexibility when it comes to planning, but let’s see these 121 counter-takes anyway.

The futility of planning

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”―Allen Saunders

“I don’t have that much forward planning about what I want to do next or in the future.”

—Heath Ledger

“I don’t plan stuff. I don’t believe in planning. I just believe in doing your best at what you do best at all times, and everything else is everything else. Everything else is a plus.”

—Burna Boy

“If anything is certain, it is that change is certain. The world we are planning for today will not exist in this form tomorrow.”

—Phil Crosby

“I don’t believe in planning for things. I just want them to fall in place, unfold as they like. I never design things. I want films to choose me; I don’t choose films.”

—Pawan Kalyan

“Sometimes, we put so much effort into things we’re doing, like dating or wedding planning, that we don’t stop to think about whether or not we even want the results of that effort.”—Emily V Gordon

“Planning assumes it will go as you thought it would, rather than it actually does.”

“The planning fallacy is that you make a plan, which is usually a best-case scenario. Then, you assume that the outcome will follow your plan, even when you should know better.”

—Daniel Kahneman

“When have any of our plans ever actually worked? We plan, we get there, all hell breaks loose!”

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

“I don’t believe in planning or yearning for something very strongly. If something has to happen, it will happen.”


“When planning your wedding you make so many decisions: ‘Do I want this fork or that fork?’ But in the end people aren’t going to remember what napkin holder you choose.”—Lara Stone

“Come on, planning a wedding, let’s be honest, it’s not fun.”

—Wendi McLendon-Covey

“Falling in love was the easy part; planning a wedding—yikes!”

—Niecy Nash

“I admit, I’m suspicious of any career planning that involves chasing the next ‘big thing,’ just because it’s so hard to predict what the next big thing is going to be a couple of years—or even six months—out.”

—Carrie Vaughn

“Planning a career, I always find that such a tricky thing, because I don’t have much of a plan, really.”

—Christian Bale

“I try not to make plans. God always laughs at your plans. I’m going to keep the door open, and keep the page blank, and see what gets painted upon it.”―Tom Hiddleston

“Without funds, all the planning and research studies can’t help us.”

—John Breaux

“Announcing your plans is a good way to hear God laugh.”

David Milch

“No plan is ever as useful as not having one.”

Marty Rubin

“Planning is worrying based on facts.”―Bangambiki Habyarimana, The Great Pearl of Wisdom

“Never have a plan; it’ll just get in your way.”

Marty Rubin

“You know what kind of plan never fails? No plan. No plan at all. You know why? Because life cannot be planned. Look around you. Did you think these people made a plan to sleep in the sports hall with you? But here we are now, sleeping together on the floor. So, there’s no need for a plan. You can’t go wrong with no plans. We don’t need to make a plan for anything. It doesn’t matter what will happen next. Even if the country gets destroyed or sold out, nobody cares.”


“Planning ahead is a measure of class. The rich and even the middle class plan for future generations, but the poor can plan ahead only a few weeks or days.”—Gloria Steinem

“Tell God your problems and plans, he wouldn’t screenshot it.”

Genereux Philip

“No! Life isn’t short. It’s you who decided to have plans longer than what life would allow you. Life is what it is. You can’t take or add. What you can only do is to live it.”

Nesta Jojoe Erskine, Unforgettable: Living a Life That Matters

“Oh, the vanity of plans! Our lives proceed regardless. All the things we work out in such minute detail slip away from us at the last moment, or change.”

Georges Rodenbach, The Bells of Bruges

“It’s the fricking reality that destroys plans.”―Sally Gardner, Maggot Moon

“Even the best-laid plans turn to hell when exposed to reality.”

Michael Anthony, Medieval Future: The Last Dragon Throne: An Epic Fantasy Adventure

“The plans we make are just ripples in the water.”

PG Tenzing, Don’t Ask Any Old Bloke for Directions: A Biker’s Whimsical Journey Across India

“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.”―JM Barrie, The Little Minister

“Life has a way of fouling up our plans. I speak from experience.”

Lisa Kleypas, Mine Till Midnight

“For people like us, looking towards the future can feel daunting. It can literally make us feel sick to the stomach and often induces panic attacks. Trust me, I’ve been there; I get it. That’s why the far-future should never be at the top of our “to-plan” list. It’s alright to have goals but to stress ourselves out with plans and options and worries of the future is a good way to drive us crazy. However, there is one time when I want you to consider the future. Always have something to look forward to.”

SR Crawford, From My Suffering: 25 Ways to Break the Chains of Anxiety, Depression & Stress

“Our best-laid plans are often our worst-made decisions.”

Craig D Lounsbrough

“Plans are for people who choose to limit their options.”―Bogdan Vaida

“We talk of plans that are going to happen.

We talk of the future,

as if we know we will last.

There is a sort of comfort in that.”


“It is easy to make plans in this world; even a cat can do it; and when one is out in those remote oceans it is noticeable that a cat’s plans and a man’s are worth about the same.”

Mark Twain, Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World

“You can plan your future but it all changes while you’re living it.”―Marty Rubin

“That’s the thing about the collapse of civilization … It never happens according to plan—there’s no slavering horde of zombies. No actinic flash of thermonuclear war. No Earth-shuddering asteroid. The end comes in unforeseen ways; the stock market collapses, and then the banks, and then there is no food in the supermarkets, or the communications system goes down completely and inevitably, and previously amiable co-workers find themselves wrestling over the last remaining cookie that someone brought in before all the madness began.”

Mark A Rayner, The Fridgularity

“Life never obeys our plans, I’m afraid.”

Barbara Kloss, Gaia’s Secret

“Life never goes according to plan. That’s okay, because often our plans are much smaller than life intends. Probably EASIER, but smaller.”

Stacey T Hunt

“With every goal, wish, or plan we deem important, we invite anxiety.”―Mokokoma Mokhonoana

“Planning and worrying and chaos in your mind? Forget it. What’s the point of that?”

—Toni Collette

“I really don’t think about my career, in terms of planning it out and what this does for me.”

—Kristen Stewart

“I think it’s dangerous to get into ideas of planning careers.”

—Clive Owen

“The barrier to our future is often the very plans that we’ve created to get there.”―Craig D Lounsbrough

“This may sound a little harsh, but I don’t care about my career. Really, I don’t like actors who are always planning what they’re going to do next or always worrying about doing something that will go against the image they’ve created. To me, that’s almost like an attack of narcissism.”

—Antonio Banderas

“I am not into future planning and all. I am concerned about my present and not the future.”

—Suresh Raina

“My first kiss was with a girlfriend. And it was at a party. I think I was hopeful that that would happen, but I didn’t plan it. You know, honestly, I think if there’s a little too much planning, it’s almost just like self-sabotage. Because then, you want it to go a certain way and it just doesn’t. And then you’re like, ‘Awww, why?’”

—Tyler Blackburn

“Plans are design to fail.”―E Leo Foster, The Exiles

“I actually wanted to be a doctor. But doing all those horrid rat dissections made me faint. I studied science till the 12th standard and later took up commerce. I was planning to do chartered accountancy, but fate had something else in store for me.”

—Bipasha Basu

“All the conscious decisions that I have taken in my life have never borne fruit. Not even come close! So, I am just very happy not planning.”

—Imtiaz Ali

“I never planned my career. I never planned to be president of Harvard. People would have thought I was crazy, probably, at the age of 8 or 10 or 20, if I had said that.”

—Drew Gilpin Faust

“When you think you’ve finally figured things out? That’s usually when your plans go to hell.”―Claudia Gray, Bloodline

“I have never had any success in planning my life, really.”

—Mary Steenburgen

“I don’t plan, because everything goes against my plans anyways. There’s absolutely no point in planning anything. I’m just enjoying the moment. I’m meeting with a whole lot of people—casting directors, directors, agents. I have things going on everywhere, but I have no solid plans.”

—Tena Desae

“Quite often our most intricate plans are nothing more than our ‘best guess’ dressed up in some intellectual finery so that we look like we know what we’re talking about.” ―Craig D Lounsbrough

“I’m not great at judging a career. Or planning one.”

—Jennifer Jason Leigh

“I like talking about comic book process, and one of the things is that I have plans going ahead for years, and the plans constantly get thrown away and shifted. There’s a difference between planning and what actually happens in life, and comics have a life of their own.”

—Ann Nocenti

“Plans are invitation to disappointment.”―Derek Landy, Mortal Coil

“I think art cannot be planned. The audience is too smart to get the dishonesty or ‘too much planning’ thing.”

—Priyanka Chopra

“I am not very good at planning things, actually, but I believe that things happen when they need to and when they have to.”

—Marion Cotillard

“I’m in a profession where if you’re planning more than six months ahead, you’re doing it wrong!”

—Joshua Malina

“Few men in our history have ever obtained the Presidency by planning to obtain it.” —James A Garfield

“I gave up planning when our children were born, when I had three children to feed and a roof to keep over our head and all of that. Early in my career, I said I would never do television at all; then I wound up doing nothing but television for 10 years when I did ‘St. Elsewhere’ and all those TV movies.”

—David Morse

“Planning things is neither my cup of tea nor my choice. Same applies to books too.”

—Sudha Murty

“I used to plan a lot. I have stopped planning after ‘Mahadev’.”

—Mohit Raina

“When you have a plan in your mind of what the best life is for you, but it doesn’t match your life, you have pain.”―Shannon L Alder

“There is no planning in a life of fighting to keep a roof over your head. It’s pure survival.”

—Stephanie Land

“There is absolutely no planning and strategising involved in my career graph.”

—Juhi Chawla

“It was amazing how you could get so far from where you’d planned, and yet find it was exactly were you needed to be.”―Sarah Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye

“I do not believe in planning.”

—Anushka Shetty

Preparation & strategy > planning

“We can plan till the cows come home, but if we are not prepared, life will take us sideways.” —

“There are some things we can plan for, but many things that are out of our control. We cannot plan for those things out of our control, we can only prepare. Some people can face the same challenge ten times, but on the eleventh time, are still not prepared. Others can face a brand new challenge, one they could not have planned for, yet they can handle the uncertainty, because they are prepared.”


“The skill of a general is his or her ability to react strategically when plans fail.”—Lance Conrad, The Price of Loyalty

Action > planning

“The reason that everybody likes planning is that nobody has to do anything.” —Jerry Brown

“If you have a dream, you can spend a lifetime studying, planning, and getting ready for it. What you should be doing is getting started.”

—Drew Houston

“There’s a difference between standing up and telling people what you’re planning to do and standing up and going and accomplishing something.”

—Paul Stanley

“I believe one is not going to get anywhere by sitting and planning too much. The point is to keep doing, and what will happen will happen.”

—Aditya Roy Kapur

“Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.”—EL Doctorow

“Plans can break down. You cannot plan the future. Only presumptuous fools plan. The wise man steers.”

Terry Pratchett, Making Money

“Don’t wait for being completely ready for the plans and ideas you may have in mind. Take action now and along the way you will learn and become ready.”

Farshad Asl, The “No Excuses” Mindset: A Life of Purpose, Passion, and Clarity

“As entrepreneurs, or artists, or just people with dreams, the worst thing you can do is get so caught up in planning the perfect idea that you never get around to actually... well, doing it. I call this building castles in your mind.”

—Marc Randolph

“I wasn’t planning on being a comedian; I just liked to laugh. Somebody said I should do it and that’s how I started.”

—Jamie Kennedy

“Personal brands are determined by a track record of actions, not a track record of plans.”―Ryan Lilly, #Networking is people looking for people looking for people

Spontaneity over planning

“No plan survives first contact with the enemy. What matters is how quickly the leader is able to adapt.”―Tim Harford, Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure

“You can devise all the plans in the world, but if you don’t welcome spontaneity; you will just disappoint yourself.”

Abigail Biddinger

“I’m not good at future planning. I don’t plan at all. I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow. I don’t have a day planner, and I don’t have a diary. I completely live in the now, not in the past, not in the future.”

―Heath Ledger

“I’ve found in the past that if we planned the show a night before, once we slept and woke up, we weren’t in that mood anymore. Because I really think doing a live show means you should be exploring your live feelings, and planning is not good.”

—Elvis Duran

“There is no planning. On the night it is really great, it’s euphoria, and if it is not so great, there is always tomorrow night. That was his attitude.”

—Ed McMahon

“I was planning to go into architecture. But when I arrived, architecture was filled up. Acting was right next to it, so I signed up for acting instead.”

—Gilbert K Chesterton

“I’m one of those wrestlers that leaves everything to the audience and to the fans. I never plan anything, and you will never see Alberto Patron planning in the back what he is going to do in the match.”

—Alberto Del Rio

“I have never planned my career here in Bollywood, so planning to do Hollywood films is a distant thing. You have to see how things come.”

—Anushka Sharma

“It comes down to the difference between what you were planning to do and what life throws at you and you have to end up doing. The one who knows how to improvise is the one who comes out ahead.” —Jason Isbell

“We must be willing to get rid of

the life we’ve planned, so as to have

the life that is waiting for us.

The old skin has to be shed

before the new one can come.

If we fix on the old, we get stuck.

When we hang onto any form,

we are in danger of putrefaction.

Hell is life drying up.”

Joseph Campbell, A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living

“It’s not like I planned it. I never woke up from some rosy dream and said, “Okay, world, today I’m gonna spaz.”

Shannon Celebi, After Spring Comes

“I have a rule about not thinking where I am or what comes next. I guess when you let go of the need to know, everything tends to fall into place … There is a mysterious pull that longs to take you exactly where you need to go.”

Lang Leav, September Love

“I never make plans; that would make my happiness dependent on the future. I simply live.”

Marty Rubin

“I had no plans of any destination. I wish to flow like a river.”

Lailah Gifty Akita

“‘How about this,’ I said. ‘We modify our plans with regard to ongoing facts as they become known to us, then remodify them as the situation unfolds.

‘You mean make it all up as we go along?’ asked Perkins.


―Jasper Fforde, The Eye of Zoltar

“Planning bores me. I like to go with the flow.”

—Vijay Sethupathi

“I was planning to stay in the Army all my life, but I ended up being posted to a training camp in Wales and was so bored there, I wrote a novel.” —Antony Beevor

“If I start planning then that’s dangerous because then I have a target that I’m blinkered towards and I won’t listen to the warning signs quite so much. I’d rather be in shape and then look around and say there’s a race next week and jump into that than have it planned.”

—Paula Radcliffe

“For me, writing is more a process of discovering the book than planning it.”

—Lois McMaster Bujold

“None of my books has been ever in my head; after they’re finished, they go. It’s like being a sort of medium; you just grab it when it’s there then just release it when it’s time to go. There’s a lot of instinct, not planning.”

—Peter Ackroyd

“If I had planned my life, it never would have ended up like this. So maybe it’s kind of fun not to plan. Maybe it’s more fun just to see where life takes you.”

Joanna Gaines, The Magnolia Story

“I don’t like planning, because it robs me of freedom, so I’d like a 24 hours that was full of surprises.”

—Marc Warren

“I’m a great believer in spontaneity because I think planning is the most destructive thing in the world.”

—John Cassavetes

“I find that my entire life has come to me, and things happened without me planning them. You know, I never asked to photograph Princess Diana, and that made me more famous than I wanted. I never asked to photograph Madonna, and that pushed me to another level. There are things that just take you into the limelight.”

—Mario Testino

“Most professional women I know—myself included—long since gave up looking for a rulebook or a roadmap; we make it up as we go along. Every day presents a new choice, a new challenge, which makes long-term career planning seem like an especially abstract exercise.”

—Nancy Gibbs

“I wasn’t planning on doing musicals, but that’s how I started.”

—Cory Michael Smith

“I really wasn’t planning on being a solo artist.”

—Juicy J

“In my personal opinion, you miss out on the beauty of the moment if you go in planning what the moment is. It’s like having a vacation too jam-packed with activities. You miss all of the sunsets.”

—Brie Larson

“I’m so happy when someone does something original, and there’s no focus group or planning committee. If the cinema doesn’t get an injection of that once in a while, we’re in trouble.”

—Pawel Pawlikowski

“The idea of working in films came after I passed class ten. I was planning to set up a restaurant and manage a business.” —Prabhas

“I don’t like planning what am I gonna say to the crowd. Sometimes the show takes a whole different twist.”

—Romeo Santos

“I am not intellectually choosy. My choice of films reflect who I am, but it is not done with strategy and planning. I hear something and go by my intuition.”

—Nithya Menen

“Planning is like taking on blinders. I think it is a wise thing to be open to whatever shows up on your doorstep.”

—Margrethe Vestager

“Most of the time, I don’t like planning out too far ahead. I like to be spontaneous, make decisions, and go, ‘Hey! That inspired me! I want to do more with that!’”

—Jim Starlin

“When we make a record, we don’t discuss how we are planning on doing it. It’s a very natural and organic growth.”

—Davey Havok

“I’ve done strategic planning, all kind of cash flows, but in fad marketing, it is all really irrelevant. It is marketing by total gut feeling. There is no market research. You either sell 500 of something, and it is a total bomb, or you sell 500 million.”

—Ken Hakuta

“Don’t live the life you planned. Live the life you never imagined.”―Jill Telford

Sources: BrainyQuote, Goodreads, IMDb

Post backdated on 30 November 2022


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