I am a dyed-in-the-wool planner and have worn the moniker Julie McCoy proudly for as long as I can remember. And while I can’t claim to be as eternally chipper as “Your Cruise Director,” planning and directing and making things happen are part of my DNA.
This is a useful skill much of the time and has served me well in both my personal and professional life. And like all things, it has its shadow side. A few years ago I was jolted awake reading Twyla Tharp’s wonderful book The Creative Habit; Learn It and Use It for Life –
“…overplanning can be as pernicious as not planning at all. There’s an emotional lie to overplanning; it creates a security blanket that lets you assume you have things under control, that you are further along than you really are, that you’re home free when you haven’t even walked into the door yet.”
Ouch. Gulp. Moi?
Oh, how I love me a plan…and preferably one I’ve carved out from start to finish. I might solicit your input, though don’t be offended if I don’t include it. I might even ask you to make the plan for us, but I think we both know I’m going to tweak it. (All in the name of maximization, of course.)
But the Architect of All is finding herself tired, a tad hubristic and entertaining the idea of dialing it back.
The rub is that I think this has something to do with surrendering. Not one of my strong suits, I am aware. But as we all know, awareness is only half the battle. Real change also takes action – or inaction, as the case may be.
But what might I be missing out on if I am always in charge of the plan? What would it look like to let go and let someone else make the plan? Or – gasp! – operate without a plan?
I am reminded of one of my favorite Indigo Girl songs, “Love’s Recovery:”
There I am in younger days, stargazing,
painting picture-perfect maps
of how my life and love would be.
Not counting the unmarked paths of misdirection,
my compass, faith, and love’s perfection…
I missed a million miles of road I should have seen.
I can assure you my picture-perfect map didn’t include include miscarriage or divorce. And following the typical trajectory (read: plan) of high school, college, job, marriage, house, kids didn’t inoculate me, or any of us, against the gut-wrenchers of life. Sadly, no plan can do that.
John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” Imagine that.
It’s hard to let go of our model or our way of being, especially when it serves us so well so often. But all models are eventually called to pass the Where-is-this-biting-me-in-the-ass? test. Take a strength or habit or way of showing up in the world and double check to make sure it’s (still) serving you and those around you. Tweak as needed.
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us,” said Joseph Campbell.
Cheers to that, Joe. I plan to work on it.