1 week ago for day 82, 2020 with 520 words.

What Plans Are For

I used to think that plans were for sticking to them. That's how it was presented to me when I was little. I'm sure that this is very much along the lines of conventional wisdom as well. Make a plan and stick to it.

As a creative child growing up in a creative environment, I somehow internalised that having plans was for boring people. If you made plans, it would automatically turn you into a firm subscriber of the picket fence association. Plans, in my mind (on in my mother's telling), made you boring. They were for a special kind of people that we call "Spießer" in German. There is no English word for that which is a shame.

Anyway, I never wanted to turn into one of those, so I valiantly resisted my planning urges for years. I was not bad at planning, quite the opposite, actually, but I cultivated everything in me that was unplanny and spontaneous (read: reckless, whimsical, whatever...manic pixie anyone?).

Fortunately, I got over this negative belief. I realised that there are a ton of creative people who are also very disciplined and organised. There are also very disciplined and organised people who harbour some kind of crazy creative streak. I am not merely talking about scrapbooking or hand-lettering either.

So I figured out planning was alright.

After that, it took me a good while longer to figure out the other negative belief I had around plans: That they were made for sticking to.

I used to feel very bad whenever I didn't stick to my plans. Not in the "this is scaring me I need my plans" kind of way but more in the "I failed at it again" kind of way. Not sticking to my plans made me feel incompetent at best. Much more often, it made me feel depressed that I didn't have enough willpower, small and weak.

I don't know how I figured out the second one. There is no "ah-ha" moment. But I eventually found that having a plan was nice and useful but that you also need to let go of it very quickly when things don't turn out the way you assumed they would. Once things change, your plan has to change as well. There is room to adapt.

Today, I think plans are a helpful tool to get an overview of what needs to be done. Sometimes, planning helps me fill in the gaps when my brain has been underestimating the task and skipping steps. Other times, it helps me realise that there is not as much to do as I thought.

Personal plans are for getting a bit of an idea. Finding a bit of clarity and being less afraid.

Plans with other people are mostly for coordination. You do want to show up at the same place at the same time if you want to meet after all.

Both of these are easy to change.

You can't change the world around you. But you can change your plans, just like that.


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By Fiene

Trying to make this writing thing stick. Medium: https://medium.com/@letterwings Twitter: @Fiene_P

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