Is planning to “not” plan a thing??
We often talk about the importance of goal setting, life plans, and making sure you are consistently reviewing the short-term plans and goals to ensure they remain aligned to the long-term plan and goals blah, blah, blah. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this sh*t! I have more books than a Dymocks Warehouse sale on personal development and creating life plans, but I still have this itching desire inside me to not make a plan, or atleast make a plan to not make a plan! Are you still following me?
I’m at the point in my life where I’ve done a reasonable amount of travel (never enough though!), have had a fortunate career thus far, and have a solid and steady group of wonderful friends and family – all of which I am eternally grateful for. One thing that continues to urrrrk me though is that I’ve always had a plan. A plan to go to uni after school, a plan for when I finished uni, a plan to travel, a plan whilst travelling, a plan for when I got back from travel, a plan to save for a house, a plan to buy a house, – you can see where I’m going with this.
My point being, I’ve never just had unplanned time. Believe you me, I’ll have the standard hungover Sunday where you procrastinate most of the day and try to avoid the world, just to realise by 5pm you’ve done nothing and you did infact make no plans – however, you then feel guilty about it! This is not the kind of unplanned time I mean. I’ve never really just gone with the flow and waited to see where the wind blew me for longer than just my hungover Sunday afternoon.
My question is – can this be done? Can you make a plan, not to plan? Have you ever done it? How did you do it? What did you do with your unplanned time? I’d love to travel without any itinerary at all, go where my luggage takes me, as far as it will take me and for as long as it will take me. Meet people along the way and go with the flow. I’d love to not work the standard 9-5pm for a while and then stumble across something that makes your heart light up and know that you are exactly where you are meant to be. Unfortunately, though, often these “unplanned times”, can be considered in the current system as complacency or laziness – or, this is my favourite one…. “directionless”, and so people avoid this time, they avoid letting the heavens decide what is next because there are bills to pay, mortgages to meet, and a system that thrives off people making plans that are wound so tight that there is no flexibility to move or to change them.
You may have heard quotes like “failing to plan, is like planning to fail”. I get that – and when I go to Coles without a list, or a plan, I most certainly DO fail, however, isn’t the reality of life that we really have no idea deep down what will happen and how that could throw all of our plans on their head with just a moment notice any way??? So, my advice to us all, and the advice that I will be taking for myself, is don’t plan every moment of your life – let some of it work itself out. A mentor of mine shared with me a great quote the other day around the importance of slowing down to speed up. Be conscious of this unplanned time, and enjoy it.
Take the trip without the itinerary. Go for a drive without the map and see where you end up. Go to the movies with no idea what you’ll see. Hell, turn up at the airport with no idea which plane you’ll get on. And, EMBRACE IT. Enjoy the spontaneity and the thrill of not knowing. Be sure to get out of your own way – and if you need another reason to do this, check out my recent blog post around “Are you your own problem?”.
Most of us like surprises – but, this is only when they are surprises that we want. When they are surprises we don’t want, we refer to them as problems. Create more surprises that you WANT. Be in control of the good surprises as much as you can. Embrace the magic of planning to not plan.
If you have stories of times you have planned not to plan, or where your unplanned time has taken you, I would love to hear – flick me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Strong advocate for helping you get the f*ck out of your own way!