Planning – The new frenemy

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” That’s the line, right? The credo? The battle cry to wield our multi-colored pens and day planners?

I’ve always been a planner. And really, that’s served me pretty darn well in life. Planning ahead does all sorts of wonderful things, like saving you money and avoiding no-snack meltdowns with little kids.

I turned 40 recently, and I’m starting to feel like I have the beginnings of enough data points to start seeing trends in my life. I can see whole scores of things where, despite untold hours of planning, I’m not a whole lot closer to the end goal. Things like:

  • Changing my eating habits
  • Writing a novel
  • Not reaching 5pm every day wondering why dinner and the need for a family meal has, yet again, reappeared

And yet, I can also spot a fair number of goals achieved through no planning at all:

  • A regular exercise habit
  • Learning Spanish
  • Writing this blog

For those things, they all started with a seat-of-my-pants approach. For exercise, one night I decided that for the next 30 days, I’d move for an hour a day. I didn’t plan what I’d do. I didn’t think through the practicality of the goal. I just sent the intention and did it.

Likewise, with Spanish, I started doing DuoLingo for 5 minutes a night. Then I booked a tutoring class through iTalki. From there, the only “goal” I had was to spend the time each day.

I can think of all sorts of ways this spend-the-time don’t spend-it-planning approach manifests in my life. I’ve borrowed several books over the years about getting children into nature – the importance of it, the activities they can do. These are beautifully written books, and I want to take nothing away from that. But also true: My kids walked out the door this morning to spend time in a neighboring canyon with their dad. They do this regularly now because it’s part of their routine, to just go spend time down there. They don’t need my books. They don’t need me to plan activities. They need open ended time and some sturdy boots.

This is all obvious, of course. But a life theme I’ve noticed of course is that most of our *big* challenges have obvious solutions. We overcomplicate these problems with Google search mentalities. We know the answers: You eat more vegetables, you move, you save your money, you read to your kids, you make them do chores. What’s fascinating to me is why we make this all so much harder than it needs to be. Byproduct of being human, I suppose?

In the meantime, the take home around here is: Plan to spend time. That’s the whole of it.

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