Plan Less, Live More
We have planners and digital calendars that map out our lives, sometimes to the minute. Our fine-tuned schedules give us a sense of control over our time. But its an illusion. Life is filled with variables beyond our control. We can't dictate the weather, or the traffic, we can't control our boss's mecurial moods or our mother's heart condition, or the real estate market. The more detailed our map of the future is, the greater the chance that a volcanic eruption will spew its ash-filled clouds on our plans.
And what happens when the best-laid plans are cast asunder? We become disappointed that reality hasn't followed the script of our expectations, and that leads to stress.
So what's the alternative to step-by-step planning? Interject the present tense into your schedule by giving yourself to the moment. By planning less, you give yourself the freedom to live more.
Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, says, "When we live in the moment, were really living life to the fullest. This is the gift of the present." He offers these dos and don'ts to keep you in the moment.
First, the don'ts:
- Dont plan. Planning is an attempt to control the world around us, but its a futile attempt. Throw out your plans, for now at least until youve decided this method isnt for you. What do you do instead? More on this below. For now, just stop planning.
- Dont worry about the future. Will something bad happen? Are there things coming up that we must anticipate and prepare for? Of course, if theres a massive hurricane headed your way, you should probably get ready. But otherwise, just realize that the future is unpredictable, and worrying about it is a waste of time. Focus on right now, and youll always be able to handle what comes.
- Dont have expectations. If you expect people to act a certain way, or hope that things will turn out a certain way, youll always run into problems. Forget about outcomes for now. Go into things without expectations, and they will always turn out perfectly (if a bit messy).
- Dont get annoyed when others act a certain way. Dont expect people to act any way other than how they actually act. They are exactly the way they should be even if thats selfish or weird or aggressive. Those are their problems. Your problem is figuring out how you should act. Id also advise you to try to understand others why do they act the way they do?
- Dont overreact. This is a major problem when people plan and things go wrong they overreact, and get upset and emotional and blow things out of proportion. Stay calm, because if things go wrong, they didnt actually go wrong they just happened. More on how to react below.
- Dont try to be proactive. This is a common prescription (being proactive) in management and business literature. And while I think the general idea is fine do something to prevent problems from recurring rather than just fixing them after they happen one of the problems this creates is always worrying about what might happen. And creating solutions before there are problems if there never is a problem, youve wasted a lot of time creating the solution, and a lot of energy worrying about the future.
And now for the dos: