Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.
My sister always knew she would study abroad in Australia. Courtney told herself she wanted to sell a novel before she was 30. SP wanted to take a summer off before starting a new career.
These people had plans. They had a vision, and it happened for them. Was it because they had a vision?
As I embark on designing my life, my dream, I realize I never had a vision for myself before. Like, never.
My sister would lie out her clothes for school the night before – on the floor, as though she’d been run over by a steamroller. My mother got a kick out of it. I didn’t give it much thought. I was the one standing in front of my closet with nothing to wear as the Gin Blossoms played on the Z-Morning Zoo. I’d spend way more time than necessary to find an outfit (and especially hard task for me and my high school body) before grabbing a Nutri-Grain bar and running out to neighbor-girl’s car after she honked in the driveway. My sister would know ahead of time if the shirt she wanted to wear was in the laundry. She’d know that plan wasn’t going to work. And she could change her approach to outfit building for that day. My way: it was a waste of time.
Perhaps a vision of what tomorrow will be like will help me get there less harried.
I always figured my life would proceed along all the normal tracks but I never really stopped to think about how I really wanted it to go. I never really planned.
This works out sort of well, as I’ve never said anything like, “by this age I thought I would be [fill in the blank].” I wouldn’t say I’ve always been content, because I haven’t, not always, but if there was ever a time I wanted something to change, I changed it. It’s just that I didn’t think to set a course or change anything before I got to low-level desperation. And that is when things never end up moving fast enough. I just sort of coasted, doing what I wanted when I wanted, but not really looking at the big picture. What kind of life did I want? What kind of person did I want to be? I guess I’ve always been more reactive. Which is fine. Nothing wrong with that. It’s worked out fine so far. Fine.
But, what if I realized there was something I wanted before I got to the point where I would trade food for change.
So, I am working on my vision. There are dates and deadlines. And I am picturing it, what I will be wearing in it. I am imagining how it will feel on my skin, how I will feel to be there (will I have butterflies, will I pee in my pants from the excitement – will not try to pre-create that now). What will it be like in the room when my dream is unrolled? Will there be cheering? Tears? And what will I be thinking? What will it be like in my head? And what I will hear coming out of my mouth?
This is sort of fun. It makes me want to “woo!”
Until then though, there’s another principle I will need to keep in the back of my mind. Flexibility. So, yeah, I have the date on which I want to have my book party. But what if there’s a cosmic snafu and the book doesn’t come out until two months later? I need to be accepting of that possibility. And I guess that comes with having faith that everything will work out (Another thing that always was part of my personal philosophy. But, believing “everything will work out” too fervently sort of sends a signal that it’s okay not to plan, because “everything will work out in the end.”) Nonetheless, flexibility and faith. Okay – in back pocket.
Then there’s the whole kerfuffle between contentment and ambition. If I am too forward-looking, do I risk missing the present moment? I say there’s no harm in striving for something better. And for some, working toward something breeds happiness and contentment. I believe I am one of them.