Newsflash: I plan things.

I plan meals. I plan blogs. I plan outings. I usually know pretty much the order of the things that I need to accomplish in a day. Earlier this week I gave you a glimpse into how I run my mornings, and I’m sure you know that the rest of my day runs this way too.

I build in time to get to and fro. I give myself extra time just in case I see something that I want to look at for an extra minute. For example, On Sunday I was meeting a friend for lunch at 1. I knew that if I walked, which I was going to, it would take about 35 minutes. I gave myself an hour- As I walked there, I looked around, stopped at an outdoor art installation that I passed, people watched a little, and got to the restaurant fifteen minutes early. This gave me fifteen minutes of “free” time where I just sort of stood and daydreamed.

When you plan things out, clearly, things can still go wrong. But there’s a possibility that things go right, and that’s when I get my time to breathe. Deb said this week that people who think a lot sometimes need to shut it down. Times like this are when I shut my thinking down. I am not stressed about being late. I don’t have anything that I need to read or to think about. I have these little pockets of time that are just me and nothing else. I look at what’s in front of me, I hear the different sounds around me, I smell what’s wafting in the air…

Planning things gives me time to breathe because it affords me moments when I don’t have to do anything.

But what about spontaneity?

What’s the upside to spontaneity?

I guess with spontaneity there’s always a sense of adventure, a sense of expectation about what’s around the corner- there’s something sexy about not knowing what is about to happen…for some people…

I have a relation who claims they like to “go with the flow”. I love the attitude. In reality though, I see someone who struggles to get even mundane tasks accomplished because they tend to do things in panic mode. They decide to spontaneously make a cake. They measure out two ingredients to find that they need softened butter and baking powder, neither of which they have on hand. So they go to the store and buy the things and wait for the butter to soften and meanwhile three hours have gone by and homework has not been done, nor the pile of laundry and they went to the store but didn’t bring anything back for dinner and the cake is finally in the oven but it’s seven and oops guess we have to order pizza again and everyone starts to get a little cranky because child A still has to do their homework and now child A is sugar high and tired and everyone starts to fight…

And the litter box is really starting to smell…and oh shoot forgot to pay the electric bill as the lights go out…

I have another relation- my husband will ask Adult B if they want to come over for dinner on Sunday- six days in the future. Adult B will say “Let’s see.” For the record, Adult B has absolutely nothing going on ever, but doesn’t want to be “tied down”.

Adult B will MAYBE call on Sunday morning and say they can’t come (at this point we’ve assumed they are not coming and made other plans). Adult B has also shown up at our house without telling us, and of course, as we assumed they weren’t coming we are out and about and no where close to being home or preparing dinner.

See- that’s the face of spontaneity that I see. In my life, I don’t personally know anyone who is successfully spontaneous. I know planners and I know people who always seem to be lagging just a little, all of the time.

Now, one could argue that my Friday posts are spontaneous- I normally write them 100% on the fly and I have no idea what I’m going to say as I write them.

You could say that my stopping to look at something I’ve never seen is spontaneous, and it is- I see something and I stop to look at it and explore it. I’ve bought cream puffs just because I walked by a shop window and the product looked so good I had to buy one. I’ve walked into galleries that have intrigued me. I took a tour of an old freighter recently simply because I saw the sign that said FREE TOURS TODAY. But I can only experience these things because the rest of my life is so ordered that I have the time and ability to see something new. I’m not fretting about laundry or the litter box or what’s for dinner. My mind is free because I’ve ticked off those boxes. I can often spend fifteen minutes just experiencing something…

For me- planning allows me to be spontaneous. And I’m Ok with this particular oxymoron.

49 thoughts on “I’m Planning on It

  1. Planning allows me to be spontaneous. I like that! I probably follow a similar philosophy myself these days, but it’s a lot more frequent to find the spontaneous bits popping up in retirement! 😊

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  2. 🙂 Your final paragraph was my conclusion as I read through, so at least you’re self-aware as well!

    I believe that general order is the key to the ‘freedom’ people claim to crave. Order allows for spontaneity, yes? So does healthy choice allow for indulgence and law-abidement for a few rule-bends when necessary. 😉

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  3. When two people are involved, spontaneity is less easy because someone else can have the control over what could have been your decisions and actions. Your decisions become responses to their actions. For example, Adult A’s lack of planning affected her whole family for the rest of the day and maybe part of the next. Adult B is just rude; he is saying “Sure, unless something better comes along.”

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  4. Hmmm…. Yes, you are indeed a planner! I don’t think I could ever plan as much as you, but I admire your organization. I’d say I’m in between spontaneous AND being a planner. If I invite someone over I’ll plan to the last detail. I like to coordinate events. That’s like an art. I go to sleep with a movie version in my head of what I’d like to accomplish the next day. So I do have a vague idea of the journey I’m on. But I am spontaneous in the way I dress, the way I decorate, teach school, design, draw, create etc.
    I’ve learned that for me, I will re direct my goals of I think of something better mid stream. I love when that happens. I like the creative high of spontaneity, but I also love having a plan in my head to guide me. And I prioritize the importance of what needs detailed plans.
    As a teacher I learned that things always happen in school to change plans. So I had to learn to improvise on a dime. I could teach anything, any time, without or with plans. Luckily I’m really good at improvisation. Lol
    But what I’ve learned over the last two years that I’ve been battling cancer is that you CANNOT really plan for anything. When I first got sick I was disoriented and frustrated because nothing went according to plan. You have to accept that. So I’m learning to go with the flow much more than I ever did. .

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  5. I love how you explained your planning and also the spontaneity of Adult B and panic mode of the cake baker. I like your way best, but I am not one to plan as much as you. Plan, yes, but with a little wiggle room. I would be antsy and friends would faint if I were 15 minutes early…but I’m getting better with that as I used to run a few minutes late or just on time. Love your posts LA!

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  6. That’s a great take on the paradox of planning and spontaneity. I completely agree. My ex did not like all of planning tendencies, and, while that’s a whole different story, I’ll save everyone from, the fact is, planning does not mean you are not spontaneous. It’s actually the opposite; and, “being in the flow” has nothing to do with being a planner or nonplanner. For the record…

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  7. I suppose I have a general plan for a day or week, but it no where near accounts for all my time. Today I will rehearse my presentation for Saturday and do laundry. I have an idea of what to cook for dinner and will probably be walking the dog. The rest of my time, who knows? I could probably accomplish more if I planned more. (There’s that lazy thing again🙂)

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  8. This post brings to mind Winston Churchill’s quote, “Plans are useless but planning is invaluable.”

    I completely agree with you – I’m a planner. It makes me sane and also reliable. And you killed the last line, “For me- planning allows me to be spontaneous. And I’m Ok with this particular oxymoron.” Brilliant!

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  9. I’m not a huge planner. I do plan certain things, usually the big things like vacations or major projects that require plans, but I hate having to keep to a specific schedule all the time. A big part of that is I have a couple of health issues that tend to upend plans. If I always lived off a plan, I’d always end up frustrated or disappointed or make others feel those things because I had to cancel last minute. It is necessary to my mental health to leave things more flexible where I can.

    I also really stress when I have bigger, more detailed plans and the reality doesn’t follow those plans. For me, it is about managing expectations and not putting too much pressure on worrying about all the little details. Like, I will plan out meal options for the week so I make sure I have what I need to make something on hand, but when I have that meal is way up in the air and depends on my mood. This is how I work flexibility into a lot of stuff I do. Certain pieces get planned, but the rest is left up to whatever else is going on that might change any stricter plans. It keeps me from over stressing and allows me to switch things up without upending everything else.

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  10. I love the expression “pockets of time”. Those are crucial especially if the day is really busy. I have these self-appointed pockets of time as well. If I have to be somewhere at time x I always plan to be there 15 min prior bec I need that pocket of time: to pee, to just be, to decompress from a stressful drive, etc.

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  11. I go with the flow, mostly as I find with plans people love to move me or ruffle my feathers. I love having the day to myself and husband to go with the flow but for work I am early so as not to be jumped by surprise with ‘more or additional duties’ for me. Although turning up early might get me in trouble and be noticed for more work. Whatever….spontaneous is good for writer’s flow.

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  12. LOL, we are way too much alike. My daughter still tells the story about my “planning” a group trip to AZ. I got everybody together and had a PPT presentation with handouts… (lots of type-A personalities, gotta keep them in line). I totally plan everything, making sure there is time for BSO (Bright Shiny Objects) or as you would say “spontaneity .” No two people are alike and some thrive on structure and some on chaos. As I see it, we all live one day at a time and I plan to enjoy every day!

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  13. This is a great post. I’d like to think that my mind is a steel trap and I don’t need to plan but it never works out that way.

    My personal trainer is big on meal planning/having a planned out shopping list so I have the right things to eat at home so I am not tempted to make poor choices like fast food. We email back and forth weekly—and what she says is true(who knew?)—the less I plan the worse my eating is. Doing the emails about my eating habits has been really helpful and has helped me to acknowledge what works and doesn’t work in my life—even beyond eating.

    In general I dislike “Adult Bs” as you describe in your post. My son has some Adult B tendencies once in a while—but I put up with it. Constantly having Adult B behaviors comes across as not really valuing others.

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