Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans
Sure, I drank, but my drug of choice has always been planning.
What can I say? I love to plan. I plan my meals, outfits, workouts, workdays, weekends, vacations. You name it, I plan it. And, while I might not have been an extreme example of an alcoholic, I am an extreme planner.
Planning helps me feel (falsely) in control of my life. It’s one of the ways in which I try (and fail) to make life predictable. That plans fall apart and give rise to disappointment has not deterred me from trying to wrangle life’s uncertainties and secure them neatly in my iCal. That my planning causes me suffering – stress, distraction, an inability to stay in the present moment – suggests to me it is an addiction in its own right.
When you are a planner, it can be difficult to understand, let alone embrace, those who do not plan. My boyfriend happens to be one of those people. It’s not that he doesn’t plan; he plans quite a bit, in fact, and he’s very good at it. But he is selective, planning only what is necessary and leaving much of the rest to decide when necessary.
I don’t think this is a bad thing; it’s just a different style. But, when it comes to things that affect both of us, my planaholism and his planopenia clash like two Real Housewives from New Jersey.
Case in point, a significant birthday is approaching for him. I started thinking about what gift to buy him approximately 90 days in advance, about potential menu items should a party occur about 45 days in advance, and what I might wear to said party 14 days in advance. He actually decided to have a party about a week before the event and sent out an invitation a whopping 5 days before. Menu will be decided some time between now and when people start knocking on the door. And the party will be a great success.
“Discussing” our different styles the other night, he made a (maddeningly) accurate and revealing statement:
Jenna, you are very organized and plan things in advance. The result is usually very good but you stress out about it for weeks or months. I don’t plan until it is absolutely necessary so I don’t stress out except for the last 3 hours. And it’s usually pretty good too.
I hate it when he’s right.
Leo Babauta recently wrote a wonderful blog post about living with chaos, in which he suggests challenging the illusion of control and not making plans. This is a revolutionary – and terrifying – concept for me. But I must admit, what he says makes a lot of sense, which is essentially: plan what is necessary (and challenge the meaning of necessary) and as for the rest, be open to the unfolding moment.
Which has me thinking, maybe it’s time to switch to Plan B.