How serious? Serious enough to count my planner among my most prized possessions. Serious enough to spend a decent amount of time contemplating which type of planner works best for me (I went back to paper three years ago after five plus years of using electronic.) Serious enough to plan almost every minute of every day (there’s a lot to do, don’t want to waste a single minute). Serious enough to schedule not only appointments in my personal planner, but exercise, meals, meal prep, and even nights at home.
(Let me explain that last one. Between my appointments with real estate and wellness clients, yoga teaching, and Grace’s skating practices and Girl Scout meetings, evenings at home are hard to come by. About six months ago, I took to writing “nothing” on one evening per week to ensure that we are able to spend at least one evening at home each week. It’s worked well. I highly recommend.)
I obviously enjoy planning. Planning is good. It makes me feel organized and in control. It helps me to make the most of my time–which, as a single mother who works full plus time, is a valuable commodity. And, it reduces stress. It makes me happy. Mostly.
While there is no question that planning improves the quality of my life, there is a point at which the planning leaves me feeling claustrophobic. And, sometimes just plain tired.
Calonius referenced a study conducted at the University of Hertfordshire to determine behaviors of people who considered themselves lucky versus those who considered themselves unlucky. Both groups of people were given a newspaper and asked to look through it to determine how many photographs were inside. On average the unlucky people took two minutes to count photographs, whereas the lucky ones had a photo total in just seconds.
Calonius explains: “How could the “lucky” people do this? Because they found a message on the second page that read, “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” So why didn’t the unlucky people see it? Because they were so intent on counting all the photographs that they missed the message.”
The researcher, Richard Wiseman summarized his findings in this way:
“Unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. They go to parties intent on finding their perfect partner, and so miss opportunities to make good friends. They look through the newspaper determined to find certain job advertisements and, as a result, miss other types of jobs. Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there, rather than just what they are looking for.”
The post got me thinking. And wondering how many opportunities I’ve missed because I’ve been so focused on my plan. How many amazing people have I missed meeting because I was rushing off to my next appointment. How many beautiful sights, heart-warming stories, and meaningful looks have I failed to notice?
So starting this week, I have a new plan! (You didn’t think I’d give it up, did you?) My new plan is to reduce my planning and to leave time and space for luck, opportunity, and magic. Clearly, this will involve not just less planning, but cutting back on some activities as well. And that’s okay. I’m ready. I’m ready to stop always working the plan and planning the work. I’m ready to be more open to chance and spontaneity.
Starting with today. This morning, I ended up with two hours between appointments on the other side of town from my home and office. In the past I would have either found a yoga or exercise class to fill the time, or driven back to the office (spending almost an hour in the car to get about an hour of work time). But not today. Instead, I parked myself at a coffee shop. Sure, I caught up on emails and blogged so it wasn’t like I was completely wasting time. But I also allowed myself time and space to be–just be–rather than focusing primarily on crossing items off my “to do” list.
Time to be. What a beautiful concept!