I’ve been a planner my whole life. Even as a kid I was always asking “what are we doing next?” or “what are we doing tomorrow?” I liked to have a plan; I want to know what to expect.
In general, this is a good thing. It keeps me organized. Planning ahead assures that vacations are on the calendar and flights are booked.
Let’s Make a Plan
This kind of long-term planning also makes me really good at my job. As a youth minister, I would have a full twelve month calendar planned at the beginning of the school year. I let parents know the dates of all retreats, mission trips and other fun activities. This gave them the ability to plan ahead for their own vacations or their kid’s summer school classes.
I had a big calendar next to my desk that I loved filling in. Before I was finishing up one retreat, I already had the contract signed for the next one. I was on the ball.
I use those same skills in my current role as a program manager. As soon as I started this job, I ordered a big calendar! I had everything laid out so that I could see what might impact what and who would be gone when. I don’t have the daily details worked out, but I know the big events that will take place in 2020 and already have plans underway.
Always Planning Ahead
Planning ahead makes me effective and efficient. Even in my personal work with writing a book and building my audience, I plan ahead. Each week I write my IG posts and get them scheduled in order to keep me scrambling to post something new each morning. Often I have my blog posts written in advance so that I’m not stressed out writing something at the last minute. (I did the same thing in undergrad and seminary — I always had my papers written at least a week before they were due!)
For my work life, planning ahead is essential. However, for my personal life — heart, mind, body, soul — planning ahead is not so necessary.
Yes, I need to make sure to get the vacations planned and schedule dates with friends. But, when it comes to the who am I, what am I doing, why am I here kind of internal questions, planning ahead does not benefit me. There’s no room in my life for trust if I plan it all out.
My New Plan
I’m starting to ease into a new way of living. I want to keep my planning, organized self happy — I can keep planning out months in advance at work. I can keep my big calendars full for all to see… at work.
Internally though, I want to change the script. My new plan is different.
I want to be content with where I am right now. Instead of always looking forward to what’s next, I want to be present with the here and now.
I want to be present to the current invitations in my life. As I lean into trust this year, I want to trust that when it’s time for something new, that invitation will appear. I don’t need to fret and worry about what the next thing is — it will appear when I need it. I don’t need to force invitations to appear.
I want to be grateful for what I have and where I am, rather than thinking there’s something better out there. My life will never be perfect — no job, hobby, friendship, family or dog will ever be perfect. I want to trust that what I’m experiencing now is preparation for whatever comes next… and to let whatever that is, come when it’s ready.
That One Plan
For several years, everything I did was based on the plan that I had for when we’d have a baby. I thought about trips we’d need to take, whether or not we could get a new dog, where I should work… everything was based on having a child.
All that planning brought me was let down and sadness. I had all these expectations based on the plans I was making and all of those expectations failed me. Normally planning makes my life better, but in this case, my planning was all for naught. All of the planning in the world couldn’t fix my infertility.
Living with Grief has taught me to loosen up my grip a little bit. I’ve learned to trust more and am looking forward to learning what else Trust has to teach me this year.
The One Thing I Can Control
One thing I know for sure — I can’t control everything. In fact, there is very little I can control. Me… that’s it. That’s all I can control. I can’t make my dog stop whining when we go for a walk. I can’t make family be more considerate of my experience. I can’t make friends reach out to me first. Hell, I can’t even control my own hormones!
But, I can control my responses. I can control my behaviors. I can let go of worry about what happens next. I can trust my life and the invitations I receive. I can plan for today with open hands knowing those plans might change.
It will take time to adjust to this new way of living. I’m not going to adapt overnight: Hi, my name is Anne and I’m a lifelong planner. However, I have already noticed that I’m less anxious. I’m not as worried about what will happen next and instead am finding joy in being right here right now.