Plan Ahead – But BEWARE!

Ah January! Don’t you love January? There is something about the beginning of a new year, isn’t there? Many of us make resolutions or commitments, although some of those same commitments we are pretty wishy-washy with no real resolve to complete them. Folks decide to quit smoking, drinking, or eat better and get fit. Some decisions are a wee bit ridiculous… even ludicrous. Those who end a year with a shout, “I DID IT!”, set realistic and practical goals.

Plan but Don’t Go Overboard

I’m a real “planner”. I live by my Google-calendar, and insist every family member use the same. We all have access to each other’s calendars. This is necessary as we have four drivers and workers sharing two vehicles. It is also necessary because “mama hates nothing worse than to fix a family ‘sit down’ meal, only to discover no one is home“! Mama? Well that’s me… and I’m here to tell you that really is a pet peeve. If they are suppose to all be home for a family dinner, they’d better be present when it comes time to set the table, sit down, and enjoy a big meal. My kids have a good number of activities other than school. If they want transportation, they’d better check our calendars!

Planning can get out of hand, however. I’m a little OCD. (Clears throat nervously when envisioning all those reading who know me well). OK. Perhaps I’m a LOT OCD, but I have come a long way! In high school and college I was truly “over the top” and my organized life was only due to a very unhappy disorder that had taken over my life. I’m more relaxed now about planning and organizing. Sure! Google calendar is my anchor for each day’s activities, but I have a messy desk, can walk by a dog toy on the carpet and no longer obsessively check things.

Your resolutions and “new commitments” will go a long way if you plan ahead. One of my own decisions is to get healthy and fit, then stay that way. I do not want to develop Type 2 Diabetes like so many in my family have. This means I have to plan a menu and grocery list and not just “show up” to super Wal-mart each week. I buy snacks, but only healthy ones. If my kids want “junk”, they have to buy it themselves and keep it in their rooms. Sometimes they will write a particular cookie they are craving on the shopping list, or perhaps they’ll go shopping WITH me. Unhealthy snacks cannot just be “laying around” in the kitchen. I want them OUT OF TEMPTATION’S WAY. I plan a good part of my day. I have to plan my day to a certain degree in order to determine when I work, do school, do housework and work in EXERCISE.

Even my assistance dog, Chloe, has put on a few pounds this past year. Three pounds for a canine is a lot. I have until May to help her get back in tip-top shape. First thing they do on certification day is weigh your dog! Walking helps us both get back into shape. Since it won’t be above 32 degrees for the next two weeks, I can see in advance that I will be walking VERY FAST. It’s been cold enough that even Chloe has stayed on track and not attempted to do anything but MOVE. (‘course… that may be because no bunnies are currently out and about).

I’m also using Spark People this year to track my nutrition and fitness. It’s easy, motivating and QUICK. I’ve seen some folks on the website who are Spark SUPER STARS. Honestly, if I had to put that much time into a “new me”, I’d lose myself somewhere. If you are planning and trying to get organized, make it simple, efficient, and fun or you won’t be doing it when February peeps around the corner!

When is Planning Wrong?

Some people work hard to make plans for work, their education, and their lives. They may have short-term goals and long-term goals. They may plan out every tiny detail. The only problem with being this way, is that when “life happens”, it can undermine confidence, destroy good intentions, and serve to produce anxiety at the deepest level. Joyce Meyer said in her book, Be Anxious For Nothing, “Learn from the past and prepare for the future, but live in the present”. She cautions against planning “too much”. Doing so can actually produce anxiety.

Have you ever been anxious? Worried? Sometimes our planning may go awry. None of us PLAN for financial difficulties, sickness, or a death in the family. You can check out my Google calendar and I can guarantee you will not find anywhere that our “Sump pump needs repaired”. We also did not plan for a circuit being “fried” due to my daughter’s space heater. These small, but unexpected bills add up.

No where on my calendar does it say, “Family shares a virus”, yet how often does that happen in any given month? Some people worry excessively about what “may happen”. Perhaps they’ve been hit by life hard and have already learned what the mean and vicious bite of unexpected tragedy feels like! They bear the scars, and fear “all things with teeth” as a result. Joyce Meyer continues in her book to say, “Anxiety is caused by trying to mentally and emotionally get into things that are not here yet or things that have already been — mentally leaving where you are and getting into an area of the past or the future”. We simply cannot plan for everything. Life happens.

The book of Matthew, reminds us, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). Planning can be helpful – even necessary to help us reach our goals. But write your plan on paper, not stone. Life has a way of changing our plans. It is very healthy to live TODAY to its fullest. If your plan is malleable, it can coordinate with the plans of others. If your plan is in pencil, changes can be made and adaptations created in order to make a “work in progress”. If your plan is on paper, you can wad it up and toss it towards a trashcan; one written in stone can only be hefted around like a burden and eventually dropped – ON YOUR FOOT – in defeat.

Plans are necessary for most people. I plan in advance by carrying extra batteries for my cochlear implant. I make sure I have Chloe’s ‘to go’ bag always stocked and prepared. I check my Google calendar at least three times a day. I have a list of things I MUST do, and a list of “hope to”. My plans do not include falling backwards down the stairs after tripping over our bouncy Elkhound. I didn’t plan it, but tumble I did last week! (Meniere’s has a way of making sure your plans have some fun “Whoops!” in there!). A man in our church had a seizure following the service yesterday. I’m not a gambler, but I’d put “money on it”, that he did not plan for that to happen. (Praying for you T. family!) Make plans, but be prepared for things to happen that you’ve not exactly planned for!

Planning is helpful and can be a great life tool. However, planning excessively can allow anxiety and stress take its toll on you emotionally, mentally, spiritually and even physically. I leave you with a few of my favorite quotes about “planning”:

Henry David Thoreau: “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way”

Philip Crosby: “If anything is certain, it is that change is certain. The world we are planning for today will not exist in this form tomorrow.”

Choice not chance, determines human destiny. (anonymous)

Denise Portis

© 2010 Personal Hearing Loss Journal