Friday, January 8, 2010

The Pitfall of Planning

I am a planner. It is a gift; it is a curse. Sigh.

I plan, I schedule, I project, I visualize, I map, I imagine - it seems to be my life's mission to plan. There are lots of great benefits to being as obsessive as I am about this. I get to live my life with purpose and intent. I gain confidence and strength from certainty. I like being self-determined. However, as you might imagine, there are also some pitfalls.

For me, the main pitfall of planning is figuring out how to handle the unexpected. I'm aware that my strict need for a set plan can sometimes be about feebly trying to control the uncontrollable. I know that flexibility and adaptability are great characteristics to possess. Knowing all of this doesn't always help when something unplanned for arises.

Take this week for example. After a couple weeks of holidays with the kids home from school, this week was about getting back into our routine. Due to circumstances beyond my control - a blizzard of epic proportions according to Alabama standards - my week did not turn out anything like I had envisioned.

There was no great cost to this change. No big deal. Having this happen rather than that didn't really pain me. But, it was unexpected. It is often said that one needs to "manage" expectations. That word never really sits right with me. When I am "managing" I am just getting by. It's as if something unpleasant has happened, but I will survive.

My preference (and this is where the work is required) would be to embrace, welcome and even (gasp) seek surprises. Such a thought is nearly sacrilegious for a planner such as myself. I'm not yet ready to consider abandoning plans altogether - that would be my end for sure. I am married to a person who has a distinct lack of plans when it comes to his home-life and it drives me crazy :)

My mission is to continue to plan and gain strength from that process, but my ambition is to find a method to be gracious when the unexpected arrives. Treat it like an unannounced visitor at my door that I'm delighted to have drop by. I will offer it coffee and pumpkin loaf. I wouldn't care that it didn't call ahead - the surprise will be what makes it even more meaningful. Why, snowstorm and icy roads, come on in, I'm so happy you dropped by.


lhalldorson said...

Now you have me thinking about what it means that I too am a planner, EXCEPT when it comes to actually executing -- I do everything in my power to avoid, cancel, and deviate from whatever it is I have planned! Fear of commitment maybe?! :)

Catherine said...

I hear ya! Sometimes I find the plan holds a lot more fun because it is about dreaming for me. Also, I wonder if I somehow know that the plan will not work out exactly like I had hoped so I dread the letdown that brings.