Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. – John Lennon

We spend a major part of our lives planning about how to take it rather than taking it for real. We plan so much ahead without accounting for unexpected circumstances. Many are living in a hoax of the future rather than living in the present and enjoying what they have currently. This can create several problems. For those that overthink and plan everything way too much, John Lennon said an interesting quote “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Let’s take a look at the analogy of this interesting quote.  

John Lennon

Who was John Lennon?

John Lennon was a songwriter, musician, and activist who belonged to Liverpool, England. His full name was John Winston Ono Lennon and was born on 9 October 1940. He got fame globally for many of the songs that he had composed as well as for being the lead vocalist and guitarist of the famous band, Beatles. John Lennon was such a successful singer that he had 25 number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He also won the Grammy Award in 1981. 

Lennon was often characterized as rebellious and more of a person who was living in the moment rather than thinking too much about life. He was always active and more of a fun-vibe person which is why he rarely thought before making his next move. Lennon passed away on 8 December 1980 after he was shot down by Mark David Chapman, a fan of the Beatles who was offended by some remarks by John Lennon on the Beatles being more popular than Jesus.

Origin of this Quote

While this quote is often affiliated with John Lennon, the sources suggest that it may have been used elsewhere first. One source suggested that this quote was first said by a man named Allen Saunders in an issue of Reader’s Digest which was published in 1957. Quote investigator suggests that John Lennon also used the quote in one of the songs he composed named “Beautiful Boy”. In the song, the exact quote can be heard in the lyrics at exactly 2 minutes and 16 seconds. 

Members of the band, The Beatles

Meaning of this Quote

This quote by John Lennon is focused on the aspect of living life from the long-term perspective. Here are a few of the important themes we can infer from this quote. 

Live Life in the Moment

The primary meaning of this quote by John Lennon is to live life at the moment. Lennon believes that most people miss out on many aspects of life while they are focused somewhere else. For example, many people start to save money instead of spending it. Some people believe that it would be important to keep savings for the future. While saving money is a healthy habit, many people do it in a way that they compromise on their current life. Lennon believes that people should be living life at the moment rather than “always” making plans. 

For example, many people don’t enjoy the days of their college life. They are taking excessive stress from studies and missing out on major fun as well. They don’t attend parties, don’t usually have a good social life, and face other problems too, just because they choose to not live life at the moment rather they focus on the long term. While these people aren’t wrong, however, the extreme life they choose for themselves is wrong. Lennon suggests that people should have fun in their life because that is the meaning of life rather than living life under constant stress. 

You Never Know the Future

Apart from overstressing, Lennon also believes that one should live their life at the moment because they haven’t seen the future. No one knows what’s coming ahead. While many of us can anticipate what’s coming next, it does not always come out to be true. When Jeff Bezos started selling books via Amazon, he was not overly focused on the future rather he was just trying to make a living out of it. He never knew he would become the world’s richest man someday. 

Live life at the moment

Similarly, Mark Zuckerberg did not graduate with a degree. Instead of overstressing it, he tried to live in the moment and see what he could do. He didn’t feel like his life was ruined.  Instead, he did what he could in the present. Today, he stands as the Founder of Facebook and CEO of Metaverse, the world’s largest social networking platform. The examples over here are countless which prove that no one has seen the future. Why worry about it so much, then?

Apart from that, we shouldn’t over-plan our future because we haven’t seen it. Are we aware of our death? Are we aware of any potential medical problems coming our way? Are we sure we are not going to have a car accident in the next 30 days? The answer to these and many such related questions is NO. We don’t know all these things. Therefore, we should feel blessed, thankful, and enjoy our lives today.

Focus on Present 

Lennon believes that a person should be more focused on their current life rather than living life in advance. Overplanning about the future is going to cause you harm. Many things that you preplanned might not turn out as per plans. As a result of this, you would be left all stranded because you lack the ability to focus on the present. When you are always focusing on the future, you are restricting your ability to plan in the present and deal with any sort of contingencies. Therefore, focusing on the present is as important as it is on the present in the future. 

Those who are always focusing on the future and then not getting their desired results are often dissatisfied as well. The main reason is that they have been thinking too much about a certain plan which has created hopes and expectations in them. On the other hand, if a person makes instant plans and tries to attempt them, he is likely to be more successful. The main reason for this is that he is considering the current situations and circumstances with a much better perception of what’s coming. He has a better idea of the situation as compared to a person who has been planning on the same thing for the past few months. 

In case, the instant plan fails, he won’t be that disappointed. Why? Because he has not spent days, weeks, or months, making up a plan and then getting disappointed by it. 

Life is good

For example, if a person plans his life too much. He decides that he is going to go abroad to a well-known university for Postgraduate studies. He keeps on saving a lot of money, extensively prepares, and compromises on many of his needs to make it possible. Let’s say, due to any unforeseen circumstances, he isn’t able to reach there. Now he does have the money right there with him, he has the resources to go but he just can’t go because of a technical issue. 

Many might think that he didn’t lose anything but, in reality, this person lost way too much. He lost the valuable years of his life that he can never get back again. This person lost the time when he could have had fun with friends, enjoy the moments in life, and live life in a pleasant manner. This person lost a time when life was worth living. Now, even with tons of money, he isn’t able to utilize it in the way he intended to. 

Instead, if he had lived a more balanced life with an approach to saving and expenditure, he may not have been as dissatisfied today. The main reason is that he wouldn’t feel that he over-compromised his life. Even Edward J. Stieglitz’s quote focuses on the life in the years you live.


John Lennon has explained beautifully the beauty of life. While he isn’t totally against planning for the future or such aspects, he certainly believes that one should equally enjoy life as much as they are stressing or planning for it. Those that go to either extreme would face various problems in their life. Therefore, they should live life in the present while mildly focusing on the future as well.