What’s up with planning these days?

Posted on Posted in Life management

What’s the old saying, “Life is what happens while you are making other plans” or the Yiddish proverb, “Man plans, God laughs”? Over the last few weeks, I’ve drafted rather detailed plans and had things come up where I just had to rip the plan up and go back to the drawing board. It has happened often enough that I started thinking about how I’ve always planned things out to the nth detail and I have been asking myself whether that serves me or not. As I was pondering this concept of planning, I dropped by one of my Facebook author groups and there was a conversation on the page about “whether planning works anymore in 2012” or “whether we should simply take the next step that is front of us and enjoy the journey.”  And I was excited that someone else was asking similar questions.

By nature I’ve always been the organized one.  I was the project manager who told people to stand back while I figured out our project plan that would streamline the work and help the team accomplish our goals. I was always flexible enough to adapt our plans as circumstances changed.  On one hand, I know when groups are working together planning is important. No one could pull off something like the Curiosity landing on Mars or the Olympics without a whole lot of planning. And yet on the other hand it feels like something is shifting and the old way of planning doesn’t fit anymore. Those old skills seem linear and the world now is multidimensional and we don’t have a matrix that works for how quickly things are shifting. Is anyone else experiencing this: the old way you used to get things done, is simply causing frustration and you haven’t yet found your new model yet?

Our ego feels more secure when it thinks it has a plan that will tell it how things are going to unfold.  But that security is mostly illusion, isn’t it? We never really know how things are going to unfold, do we? There is a constant readjusting and course correcting that needs to take place. The plan written on paper today can be outdated by the time it is distributed.

The other day it felt like a cosmic log jam opened and all of a sudden projects that were dead in the water came back to life. I had seven different people wanting information from me for these different projects. I drew on my old planning skills to make a spreadsheet with each project I had on my plate and steps that would move each project forward but I resisted making a formal plan with strict time lines. I spent the whole weekend, showing up, looking at the lists and just doing the next thing that needed to be done. I got a lot done, with less stress. And I think for now, I’ve found my new model, but as things go, that will probably have to change again soon.

What do think? Are you naturally a planner? Or one who goes with the flow? Has your experience shifted with regard to planning?   Have you noticed that it is harder to plan in the way you did in the past? How are you coping?  What is your experience? I really want to know.

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