“Are you a planner?”
It’s a question that comes up in everything from personality tests to job interviews. And it’s one I’ve struggled to answer since I became an adult.
The easy way to answer would be to consider all the things I’ve technically “planned” in my life–entry to college, a move abroad, a wedding (and one of the destination variety if you consider I got married in Philly while living in Australia).
The more accurate way to answer would be: ” I can plan things that have a defined endpoint or a physical destination.” If I know what the outcome is, I can wrap my head around what it takes to get there.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about planning since Brendan commented a few weeks ago that I don’t like to plan. It was in the context of routine with Finn and how I was the one who had struggled with it. “You live everyday based on what you feel like doing,” he said.
At first, I was super shocked. To me, lack of planning somehow equates to spontaneity–and I’m definitely not someone who is deciding to BASE jump of a bridge one day and going to brunch the next based on my mood when I wake up. I bring the same lunch everyday. I take the same route on my seven-minute walk from the subway to my office building each day. I get the same haircut every six months (I know, I’m terrible).
But perhaps I do live in an unplanned world on a smaller scale in that I don’t like to follow a formula, nor do I like to do things the tried-and-true way. One illustration of this mindset appeared in geometry class sophomore year of high school. My teacher once returned a worksheet marked “Right answer, wrong method!” I’d technically gotten the answers right but not in the right way according to my teacher. I point to this characteristic as the reason I hate math today–I tend to avoid arriving at an answer by any method other than the one I choose, even when there’s a threat of bad consequence (in the case of that geometry class, it was an 81 average for the year. Not my best work).
In my adult life, this mentality appears in small ways from loading the dishwasher the way I want even if something won’t get cleaned in that position to getting something out the door at work without following the proper chain of approval. A lot of this comes from a mix of gut feeling and impatience. It’s only after that potential negative consequences appear to me.
Why I am talking about all this? Because something happened to me a few months ago that reminded me that life can’t always be planned. I approached this year with several goals in mind both professionally and personally. I met the professional ones and the personal one came close to working out but did not (this is vague, I know, but I’m not ready to write about it). The resulting sentiment has been a shift in priorities-, and a return, in a cosmic, full-circle way, to a crossroads similar to the one I was in seven years ago, before I decided to move to Australia. It’s resurfaced goals I had back then, goals I need to chase now in the larger context of 2016 not working out the way I anticipated. Back then I wasn’t ready to go after it, not really, and I also needed to come to it in my own way (and my way, in addition to being non-formulaic, can be painfully slow).
This won’t be easy. I honestly both know where to begin and have no idea. But I do know that the pivotal moments of my life have been largely guided by heart and soul. If I keep those as the dual-fuel engines behind my intentions, the plan might just unfold as I intend.