My whole life I have been a planner. I’m incredibly decisive and the moment I make a decision, I make it happen. Just ask my mom… she’ll tell you I was born this way.
This personality trait really took off as I became an adult. When it came time to look at colleges, I had one school in mind and that’s where I was planning on going. My parents, my guidance counselor, and my teachers all strongly advised me to apply to more than one college. However, I made up my mind, so there was no swaying me. Luckily, my college of choice, and the only school I applied to, accepted me.
After college, I planned a move to Stamford, CT with no job offer on the table. My mom suggested I stay home for a bit and save up some money, but alas, I had my mind made up. Luckily, I found a job right away.
This is my process – decide and do. Plan and execute. Always look to the future.
Well, my mentality has drastically shifted since my divorce, because it had to. Planning means something different now. My original plans have completely crumbled and now I understand the saying “tell God your plans and He will laugh”.
My plan was pretty straight forward. Marry AJ, make our marriage a priority over the messes life can bring about, and stay married. Forever. I had my career goals of course, but I assumed that would be a little more fluid pending AJ and I deciding on growing a family.
When I saw my plans disintegrate in front of my eyes almost a year ago, I realized how flawed my planning tendencies are. My plans didn’t play out. Now, I couldn’t plan lunch tomorrow, let alone what my life would look like a year from now.
This realization sent me into a complete tailspin.
My plans that provided such specific instructions were no longer valid. I had no instructions. No direction. No plan. I was free falling… and not in a good way.
After 28 years of perfect, precise planning… panic set in… what do I do now? I have never known any other way to live life.
I began by trying to bring more structure in my life. My career provided the base for that structure, but that only accounted for 40 hours a week. I attended church weekly, which added structure to my Sunday mornings. I researched classes that I could take as a hobby and that filled in my Tuesday nights. I tried to find meaningful moments to create structure so that I would be less focused on what might happen two years from next Thursday and more focused on right now.
Months later, I am still wrestling between my mind’s tendency to jump ahead, set a goal, and force it into existence and my new way of thinking… being in the moment. Sometimes, I see where my little sister is in life and think, okay, I need to get xyz done, because she is doing so great and I want that for myself. Sometimes, I look at my friends and their life and think, if I could just skip ahead, I could have that too. Then I try to skip ahead, but I get stuck. I get stressed. I see how my logistics are preventing me from jumping ahead as I had in the past.
But then, I take a deep breath and close my eyes. What I see when I open my eyes is far more beautiful and important than the imaginary checkpoints I’ve set up for my life, according to my original plan. I see love. I am surrounded by it. People who genuinely love me and people I love as well. I see that all of my basic needs are met and even more than that. I have shelter, but it’s beautiful and comfortable. I have food, but it’s abundant. I never want for anything. I see the satisfaction I get from my career. I see how amazing my life has always been and the numerous benefits that have come out of the darkest part of my life. New friends, renewed confidence, freeing myself from a toxic relationship, and (last but certainly not least) helping others through writing. There isn’t a need to skip ahead, because right now is pretty great.
The other night I had the pleasure of sitting down to dinner with a truly remarkable group of women. Each of us in a different season in life. We discussed everything from psychology to dating. We dug deep and connected in a way I think a lot of people miss these days.
In the past, I may have sat there thinking about how I had planned to be done with dinner at 8pm so that I could go take care of (insert task here). But as I sat there, I soaked in every moment and didn’t take a even a single moment away to check the time on my phone. It was so freeing to just sit and enjoy every moment.
Later that night it really hit me… this is how to live in the moment and let go of the need to plan every second.
Be present, enjoy every moment for what it is, and don’t rush things along.
Life is so short already, I used to plan it away. Now, my plans are more forgiving, ever-changing and evolving as I evolve.