One of my dad's mantras as I was growing up was, "You've got to have a plan," or "Let's make a plan." He insisted upon thinking ahead. I remember when he first sat me down and taught me how to create a plan for a school project so that I would get a little done every day and not be overwhelmed. That helped me immeasurably in school. Time management is absolutely critical in accomplishing all of the requirements and assignments at school and work.
Because of this great training, I thought I was a great planner but recently I realized that my planning needs some adjustments. My first problem is that I worry about everything. I know that if I am in a panic about the paper that is due, I need to sit down and find a way to get it done. However, I have recently seen my planning deficiencies. I am not good at long term planning. My indecision reeks havoc on my best intentions. I have dreams and hopes aplenty but an actual plan or direction? I am not sure. I often get too caught up in the details to notice the big picture. I micromanage my own life.
Now, before I hear a chorus of dissent reminding me that plans are made to be broken and life is unpredictable, I admit that I do recognize this fact. Certainly spontaneity is a characteristic that I cherish and try to cultivate. Being flexible in the face of unexpected events is a virtue to be certain. But it is not a reason to have no plans at all. There is a danger in letting things just happen to you instead of living life according to your convictions, beliefs, hopes and dreams.
All of this started milling about in my head when I read a chapter in, “Father Fiction,” a book by Donald Miller about growing up without a father. (The book is fascinating because it confronts the statistic that in the United States 80% of the inmates in prison nation wide grew up without a father. ) This particular chapter was about how Miller became an author. He writes that one day he realized he had to "start making good decisions." Which I found a very interesting way to phrase his "coming of age." He realized he had to start making decisions that led him where he wanted to go and so he got serious about writing. There have been many twists and turns in his journey but he kept his course and has indeed become a published writer. I was very inspired by that. Do I really plan to be a published author? I asked myself and my answer was (not surprisingly) indecisive.
I love what I have observed many bloggers doing: taking a day, a week, a month, even a year to unplug, recharge and evaluate where they have been and where they are going. As this school year draws to an end, I sense a need to do this too, to look at my life from a wider lens.
What about you? Do you air on the side of spontaneity, over planning, neither or both? Do you set aside time to take stock and evaluate your life? What are your dreams? What is your plan to reach them?