Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Planning for Tomorrow on Borrowed Time

So for the first time in a long, long while, I bought a planner. 

A monthly calendar, a daily calendar, complete with to-do lists.  Actually, it's pretty nice.  Ever heard of Emily Ley? Well, she's pretty cool and she makes planners. She sold me my newest and most recent planner.   She's the type of person who, up until maybe two years ago, I would have been trying to buy every single notebook, calendar, spiral bound to-do-list maker that she had in her inventory.  

A week and a half into using my new planner.   It's raised my "BE AWESOME AT LIFE" meter by a full 110 percent.  Winning.

Back in the day, I was obsessed with to-do lists. In high school, not only did I fill notebooks with journal entries, I also filled completely separate notebooks with daily agendas and plans for the future. 

Plans, yo.  I was all about the plan. Going somewhere?  Gotta have a plan.  Doing something? Get me the plan!  Saying something?  Let's plan it out.  Christmas shopping? Plan.  Birthday party? Plan.  Just a Tuesday?  Plan.  8:00 A.M. in the morning and you just woke up?  Let's make a plan.  2:00 A.M. and you're still asleep?  Well, you're wasting time.  You need to make a plan for the next hour of sleeping.

I was only sort of Type A before I got all into planning.  But you know what made that part of my personality come out even more?  Something happening that was NOT part of my plan.  Like oh, I don't know...kidney disease.  At that time, in my youth and naivite, I thought I could just make a plan for when I was going to be cured and healed.  I devoted so many hours of my day to either journaling or writing to-do lists not just for the coming day, but for the coming week, month, even year.  Something about feeling completely out of control when it came to my life and health, just made me want to do everything in my power to try to get some of that control back.

I was young then.  And didn't know anything. 

Fast forward to my life about one year ago...Ben and I had planned to plan a wedding and a honeymoon without any mishaps.  Then my kidneys decided to fail completely and I started this blog. YAY!

Here's the point.  Back in the day, I was wrong.  The type of "planning" that I was subscribing to was unhealthy.  It was based on the idea that if I wrote out some type of line-by-line, number-by-number schedule for how every aspect, hour and minute of my life was going to go, it would most certainly go that way.  The type of planning that I was doing was based on the assumption that if you have a plan or a goal in life, nothing bad can ever happen to you.  

That type of mess right there, is just wrong.  Because everyone knows that even the best laid plans can go awry.  Really sometimes you can have a plan, and it can come to fruition.  And sometimes, God wants to use you for something else. 


Back to why I wrote this blog post.  I bought a planner.  And planning is something that I kind of gave up on about a year and a half ago. I felt like, "Why even plan anything if shit is just gonna happen to you when you don't want it to?" 

Well, over the past six months, and as the year started to come to a close, I began to feel overwhelming DISORGANIZED.  Yes, I'd been living a summer of carefree happiness, doing things on a whim, paying the bills if I felt like it, and then going to bed at 1 A.M. on a weeknight when there were still dishes everywhere and two full baskets of dirty laundry. Eventually, doing all that and not having a plan for getting shit done, started to make me feel really crappy, like less of an adult, and more like I was losing control of my life than having a chronic ever made me feel.  Writing my to-do lists and appointments on scrap pieces of computer paper and the corners of my journal just wasn't cutting it. 

So I broke down, I guess you can say, and realized that I need a some sort of book, notebook, lined paper sandwiched between to pieces of cardboard, where I can safely store reminders and notes and calendars of events.  

Before I actually purchased my planner, I talked to my dear goals-oriented friend across the world in Asia about what he thought I should do. Whether paying money and investing any more time in having a planner was something I should even jump back into doing, considering the impact it had on me when I was just a teenager.  I just about lost my mind trying to plan things out all those years ago. I didn't want to fall into being a control freak again.  I didn't want to find myself, at the end of the year saying once again, that I told God my plans and he laughed...and laughed...and laughed.

My friend educated me saying:  planning is different from scheduling. And essentially, that's what my planner is.  It's a big calendar of the day, week, and month that I can use to write down things that I need to do and therefore set aside time to do it.  That's it.  That's all it is.  And guess what, if something comes up (praying for no more kidney failure) I can simply adjust.  Cross out things. Amend it. Erase it. Write something else in. Fit it on a different day.  And in the process, getting all those "need to do" things out of the way, frees up more time for me to do the things I want to do.  Like play my new bass guitar (more on that later) or..I know! Write a blog post.  See?!  

I'm confident that I won't fall back into my old habits of compulsively planning or scheduling or whatever. Now, I know that what makes someone an expert planner is being able to control a situation, but to adapt when things don't fall into place as expected and when things change.  Because things do change.  And that's OK.  That's why it's always good to write things in pencil, just in case.