The Trouble with Being a Great Planner

I am the kind of person who enjoys writing strategies and planning projects well in advance. I start writing a shopping list before any of the items get over in my household and things keep me up at night that I have to tackle next week. I got used to always knowing what would happen and to keep things under control. I have a scenario for every possibility before I receive an answer for my question and the bag I carry with myself can beat a first aid kit.

If any of these things sound familiar to you, we are in the same shoes, my friend, so keep reading…

I grew up in an environment where I was questioned often what will you do if…? And if that doesn’t work out, how will you go on? It created an urge for me to always think about the worst case possible and to make a plan Z.

While my family and my teachers had an intention to save me from future disappointments and to ensure I will be secured wherever I go, I realized that being a strong planner can have downsides in my life.

First of all, if you always concentrate on the things that could go wrong or the worst case scenario, you won’t be able to enjoy the journey that you are going through. You will surpass the excitement that new beginnings bring in your life and you will keep telling this to your friends:

This is my plan, I don’t want to be too enthusiastic about it, because I will be disappointed if it doesn’t happen. We will drink to that when it is sure…

But the problem with postponing your joy of starting new things is that by the time you could cheer your mind will already be running on the next steps that comes after your achievements. In the last two months I was in a complicated situation trying to get a new visa to go back to India and continue my life there. I went through all regulations and requirements to find an option that is best for me and the company I work for. I spent a good time with my close friends and relatives after a long time who, of course, wanted to know about my plans and how long they can see me before I travel again. I explained the entire procedure (which they probably didn’t want to know), and they listened to me patiently till I said: It is still not completely sure so I will just tell you when the visa is in my hand – even after I got the receipt saying it will arrive in a week.

And what happened a week later? I got the visa, I booked my flight for the next day, as the company and my landlord was already waiting for me in Bangalore, and I left. Then started to receive messages asking if I am still in the country…

I was totally stressed all the time, and it turned out there was nothing to worry about.

The problem with being scared of unmatched expectations is that it will prevent you from living the important moments of life and dedicating full attention to the present events which could gain you life-long memories. It will make you worry your life away setting your mind on thoughts which can harm you in every way. You waste precious time sketching Plan B,C and D before A turns out to be a fail at all. What’s more, paying too much attention to alternative assumptions might even be the reason for losing out on the first option.

I learnt that there are challenges in life which require complete dedication from me and if I get distracted by backup plans then someone will steal away my dreams before I know. Noone has ever lived a remarkable life playing it safe all the time, and more often than not our fear of the unknown is bigger than the things that could actually go wrong.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got is to only worry about the things I can do something about in that given moment. Chances are you won’t step any further building assumptions at bedtime or calculating your expenses when your friend is talking to you about his weekend. I used to believe that thinking ahead is something that saves time for me, but it was the single thing I wasted the most time in my life on!

I had to learn how to bring my consciousness to the given moment. To shift my awareness to my surroundings, the small details of the room, the music playing, the people around me. To have more moments when I am not brooding over the past neither worrying about the future, but just living in the present moment. After all we won’t remember how many plans we had made before we got there…but those imperfect moments on the way will be our best memories.

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