They say that if you fail you plan, you plan to fail.
For years, I tried to own this catchy mantra. To use it to make my life more organized. To save myself from frantic scrambling in the depths of my purse. To save time and sanity.
Glorious things are promised to those who plan. Or so they say. After expending untold efforts in pursuit of this ideal, the truth can no longer be avoided: I’m not much of a planner. I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that for me, planning is simply more stressful than not planning. Take my to-do list, for example. Even a seemingly simple item like “pick up drycleaning” will languish on my google tasks list for a week, during which time I’ll expend a not-insignificant amount of mental energy trying to fit that trip into the logic of my days. Do I ever swing by after work and before our dinner party? Of course not. I use those precious minutes to un-dog hair my floor or go for a last-ditch grocery run. Do I remember to stop by after yoga? Maybe, but I didn’t bring other clothes, and how could I go inside in my sweat-soaked booty shorts?
I’ve finally realized that for me, things just work out more easily and more efficiently if I just do it when it makes sense, at that moment, and give up trying to plan for them. Not overthinking it saves me a lot of time and energy–I get to use those precious brain cells for musing over more important things, like what shoes would look best with the gorgeous, unaffordable dress I spotted online the night before.
Now, this realization is all well and good for most aspects of my personal life that don’t require routinization. Drycleaning, for example, has to be dealt with on a fairly regular basis, but being a day late is (usually) not a big deal. What about health, though? Missing an opportunity to work out because I don’t have the right clothes on hand, or because I stayed too late at work, is a slippery slope that can only end in a lower center of gravity and a decreased energy level. At the end of the day, we all have to learn to manage our own tendencies and proclivities. Not being a planner is not an excuse for unpreparedness, or for allowing my inner couch potato to take control of the cockpit.
So no, I’m not a planner. But do I keep a set of yoga clothes in my car at all times? You bet. Do I make sure my gym bag is packed the night before a morning workout? Absolutely. More than often, spontaneity requires a little preparation. You never know when, at the spur of the moment, the ponytail holders you tucked into your glove box will save the day. Or the spare set of running shoes under your desk will get you some quality facetime with the big boss. For me, realizing that my planning department was underqualifed enabled me to plan in ways that help me succeed, instead of making me feel inadequate. And succeeding despite yourself is what it’s all about, right?