Planning and scheduling just don’t seem sexy. There’s just no way around it.
And it sucks sometimes, because I think we all want to be people that live the way we “want” to live with no effort, just breezily passing from one activity to the next, one food to the next, with no stuckness, trouble, procrastination, or overthinking.
But how often does that really happen?
I mean no offense. I want to live that way too, and right now Reality is just laughing at me.
I want inspiration to guide me, and I want everything to flow from that point. But I don’t have an architecture of plans and structure to support that inspiration. I think I’m still a little burned from my previous life where I had to be super rigid, so I haven’t committed to scheduling my life.
As a result I find myself going through life fighting fires. I can’t pull my focus off the fire right in front of me in order to put attention to other areas of my life. If that continues long term, it’ll hurt me, because nothing will get attention until it’s already a problem.
Instead of living between the extremes of FIRE FIRE FIRE and ice cold water, I need to create a simmer.
Simmer, to me, is the paradoxical state of being both in perfect equilibrium and also at a tipping point.
A simmer is stable; even if I don’t watch it constantly, it will continue rolling along.
If I direct my attention to it, I can bring it to any state I desire.
If I have to deal with something in crisis mode, I don’t enjoy it. If I let it get to cold water, then I have to get it all started AGAIN. And a watched pot takes forever to boil.
This can show up a lot of ways.
Maybe you have a creative pursuit that you haven’t been prioritizing. I know it “shouldn’t” be a priority over your job/family/pets/whatever, but it impacts you not to have that outlet. But then when you try to start it, you’re starting cold and it seems overwhelming.
It often happens when people come back to an exercise routine after a long break. We remember what we used to be capable of, and sometimes if we get too far away from that routine, we fear Reality. Now we’ve got to restart with cold water and diligently watch it until it gets up to the level we want (and not get frustrated with the wait).
For me it most commonly shows up when I don’t prioritize my self-care and needs. I just keep saying “yes” and going going going at all these pursuits, until my body, mind, and soul are so ragged from lack of rest that my body stops me in my tracks (with illness or depression, usually).
So let’s put planning higher on our List of Tools, and plan time each day for all the facets of our lives. Schedule it in.
One option is to schedule the theme for a time period and vary the specifics.
For example, say I want to do 20 minutes of gentle exercise in the morning, just to get my blood flowing. I can do yoga, I can do Shiva Nata, I can run, or I can walk. And on the day I’ll decide what feels best for me.
Or if I want to dedicate 1 hour per day to creative pursuits, I could write in my journal, do a little sketching, I could take myself on an Artist’s Date around the city, or I could dance.
If you choose this method, let these wise words from Raymond Chandler guide you:
The important thing is that there should be a space of time, say four hours a day at the least, when a professional writer doesn’t do anything but write. He doesn’t have to write, and if he doesn’t feel like it, he shouldn’t try. . . . But he is not to do any other thing, not read, write letters, glance at magazines . . . . Two very simple rules, a: you don’t have to write. b: you can’t do anything else. The rest comes of itself.
If you don’t want to exercise during your set exercise time, don’t. But you’re not allowed to fill that time with other activities. That’s your exercise time.
So here are some life areas to explore this week. See if these are getting a check-in on a regular (preferably daily) basis. If not, plan some time. Even if it’s 15 minutes of focused energy, it’s a start.
Trust that eventually it won’t need to be so rigid, but for now, just schedule it in.