I’m a planner. I create plans for deadlines every month, every week, day by day, and even moment by moment. Sometimes I use lists, sometimes I type out plans, and sometimes I put events on my Google calendar. But mostly, the plans are in my head. I think I’m improving myself, but in actuality I’m confining myself, minute by minute.
I find that when I base my day to day choices on the plans I’ve already made, I lose myself. I complete tasks, but I’m never content. I always seem to be reaching for that green light at the end of the dock.
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I’m not content because I think that if things don’t go according to my plan I won’t be who I’m supposed to be or where I’m supposed to be in my timeline.
Don’t get me wrong, planning is good. It gives us assurance and peace of mind when we prepare ourselves and our family for our future.
But recently, I’ve realized nothing is for certain. We can plan our lives, minute by minute, but the moments that take our breath away are rarely the ones we have planned.
So I ask myself, what if I let go of my grip a little? What if my 5 year plan takes 8 years? What if in 10 years I’m not where I thought I would/should be? What if I allowed for the flow of opportunity to come my way and stopped basing my happiness on my plans for the future?
What if I allowed myself to be happy right now?
Instead of focusing on the destination, I’ve made up my mind to focus on the journey.
Yes, all of us have milestones we want to achieve in our lives, but we can lose ourselves and our present happiness if all we’re focused on are those future events, thinking once we get there, then we’ll be happy.
Day after day, we are inundated with stimuli, data, and other people’s opinions.
If we allow these things to define us, we end up creating and following plans for someone else’s happiness instead of our own. In doing this, we confine ourselves.
But what if we’ve spent hours, days, even years planning out our lives?
It’s okay to change your mind.
It’s okay to change decisions as we learn and grow. We don’t have to stick to plans just because we spent the time making them.
Reality is different than the story we tell ourselves or the picture we paint in our heads of how we think events are supposed to be.
Most of the time, reality is messier. Many times, reality is more beautiful.
If we embrace now, one moment at a time, a surprising thing happens. Each moment of contentedness leads to another, and we realize we’re living happier lives than the ones we had planned.
What dangers have you discovered about over-planning? I invite you to join in the discussion and leave your comment by scrolling to the top of the page or clicking on the link below.
3 thoughts on “The Danger of Over-Planning”
I used to make daily to-do lists a few years back, and did so for years. I’ve always loved to plan ahead, and have felt the need to do so, too, to calm myself down and not stress too much about things in general. But when I realised that my to-do list were growing and growing and I wasn’t even able to finish them half-way, I knew it had gone too far. It was hard, but I made myself stop. These days, I might write one when I have a day off and need to get a few ceratin things done, but if I “fail” at some of the things, I won’t beat myself up for it. As you say, it’s all about the journey and not the destination anyway. So it’s all okay!
I love your example of to-do lists and how they can take on a life of their own if we’re not careful. Mostly now I keep ideas for what I want to accomplish in a day in my head. When I get up, I list out 3 things I want to do that day. It can be as simple as enjoying a walk, or taking a few minutes to relax in my backyard. Then the third may be a task I don’t really look forward to as much, like cleaning my bathroom or something like that. After making that a habit (2 things I look forward to, 1 thing that needs to get done), now I find myself just incorporating them into my day without listing them out. That way I have more time for the journey. Thanks so much for your comment!
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That’s actually a great idea! I might try that out myself 🙂