The Danger of Over-Planning

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.

What If?

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.

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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.

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Re-Do

What works for me?
What pushes me to be better?
Who gets to see that part of me?
Apart from all the bull shit.

Apart from the burden I feel
Every time I wake up
The choices I’ve made
Have led me here

Have led me away from you
But in another time &
Another place
I would be with you,

Holding your hand
Smiling
Instead of sitting here
Alone, Stagnant

Trapped by what I’ve chosen
What wouldn’t I give up now
To go back and decide again
To make that defining choice, differently

To walk into the sunset with you
Instead of turning back
And choosing familiar
Over the new possible.

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Uncomfort

We do all sorts of things we’re uncomfortable with. We become all sorts of people we’re uncomfortable with. We keep changing, so slowly at first that we never notice until one day, we look in the mirror, and the eyes staring back are unfamiliar and glazed. We’ve not noticed that person before. That person with that look. How unbecoming-to look so real, so raw, so lost.
Do we grab the concealer, shake it off, and continue on, another act-like everything is okay?
Do we omit this strange and unnerving feeling from our daily conversation, so as to not disturb or confuse the flow of things?
Keep ignoring and you will explode. Maybe not now, but eventually you will see that face in the mirror, really see them for who they are: you pleading with yourself to notice what you need. You’ll finally take notice, maybe because it’s been years since you really said yes to that person, maybe out of guilt, maybe out of longing, but mostly from regret. That you were too stubborn or blinded to notice yourself sooner. Who else feels what you feel? Who else can possibly check in and feel what you need, better than you? If you learn how.
What about the why? Why do we find ourselves stuck like this? Why do we compromise so much of ourselves, our voice, our likes, dislikes, desires, and freedoms? For the smiling faces of others? Don’t fool yourself: behind most smiles therein lies the same disquieting thoughts that make it impossible for you to really be you. When people smile back, what are they really smiling at? How many times do we act a part in any given day?
No, don’t give excuses for why, just focus on the question: How many times do we play a role? Spouse, child, parent, guardian, teacher, businessman, writer, devotee, singer, caretaker, etc.
Is this our own decision, or are we prodded by the choices we’ve made to continue to make the same ones, in a revolving circle, so that the first choice we ever made to get us here is blamed for all consecutive choices since? Oh, if I hadn’t married him, I’d be happy, you might say. Or, if I chose a different profession, I’d be someplace different now.
That one choice does not define you, and that one choice has not led you here. It’s a compilation of millions of choices day after day, minute after minute, second after second that has led you here. In any given moment, tens of thousands of inconsistencies or moments within moments can happen, spurred on by all different moments, leading to the one you’re experiencing. Walk out the door and thousands of things can happen, all brought about by a thousand other things, some in your control, most not in your control. So no, that one choice did not bring you here.
But that one choice is keeping you here. That one choice is keeping your mind so locked up that you aren’t able to process the moments now differently enough, so you keep making the same patterned choices you made before, leading yourself to believe it’s because of that one decision. It’s not the decision, it’s the way you’ve patterned your brain, it’s how you think, not what.
Now, clean out the how, change the pathways, and your choices will be different because your fundamental thinking pattern will be different. Hopefully, more attuned to you, and less attuned to projections, flashbacks, and stagnation.

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Last Image

The cabin air feels tight
Depressurizing
And as I sit here not yet realizing
What’s happening,

A picture pops into my head
Of you, eating grapes
At our table

Laughing at the ordinary moment
Of me dropping my milk
“Typical” You smirked

And that smile lingers
On the horizon as I
Softly go to sleep

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