The Power of Planning

Think for a minute about all the planning you do in your day-to-day. Calls for work. Meetings. Picking up the laundry. Going to the grocery. Dropping off kids and picking them up. Thinking about the best time to call a friend, parent, or schedule a hair cut.

Each day we plan a myriad of activities to control our time. To get all that we need to do done. To feel good. Productive.

With my work, if I didn’t plan calls, writing and editing time, or think about the best time to pop out because I’m running out of toilet paper, well, nothing would get done. And then I’d look at what I needed to do and feel pretty bad because I didn’t do any of it.

Planning when it comes to work and necessities is something we all learn to do pretty early in life – think of how scheduled you were as a child with school and then after school activities. But when it comes to living and to relationships there’s this notion that feeling good in life and love just happens. It’s spontaneous. Free flowing.

I just finished reading Mating in Captivity by Esther Perel, which tackles the question of can we desire what we already have. In the book Perel talks about “The Myth of Spontaneity”. She writes that “Spontaneity is a fabulous idea, but in an ongoing relationship whatever is going to “just happen” already has. Now they have to make it happen.”

All this got me thinking about how I too have fallen into this idea that spontaneity is what keeps living fresh and relationships alive. Planning in a relationship was something that made me think maybe my relationship wasn’t working or was off. But what I’m learning is that planning is actually powerful.

I just got married. The wedding took about a year and some to plan. And the anticipation and excitement leading up to that day turned the day itself into something I’d never experienced before: planned delight.

By planning we set an intention. We put in the time. We put in the effort. By planning we create a space for ourselves to be completely present – conscious.

I think this hits on something bigger than affecting only those in existing relationships. Think about what you desire when you want to fall in love or you want to live well – we all want things to just happen, to be unable to resist, to click, to suddenly be something – but what if we let go of the idea that all this was spontaneous? What if we set out knowing that it was up to us to make our lives what we want them to be and our loves how we want them to be.

What if we plan to live and plan to love … What would that look like?

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