making plans

It’s what we do.  Making plans keeps us motivated and evolving.  Otherwise, we are blowing in the wind.

There is a lot to be said for “living in the now” as long as ‘the now’ includes projections, dreams, desires, and plans for future dates.  We humans are non-stop after something, or more of something.  So we make plans.  We plan what to wear, plan the day, our next meal.  We make vocation plans, vacation plans, wedding plans, retirement plans, and plans for dying.  Planning is an active part of life.

We are lucky if we have the ability to plan.  Plans provide structure.  One could say that the more structure a plan has, the more likely the plan will succeed.  If a business plan is full of good plan details, or a vacation plan is well thought out, or dinner plans are complete with a detailed recipe, the outcome is more predictable.

All of us though, have different levels of plan structure tolerance.  Vacation plans are a good example.

I had criss-crossed the USA, and been up/down the east coast a couple times on a motorcycle in my early 20’s.  Each of those trips was thrilling and satisfying.  The only planned aspects were when and where I was starting and ending.  Because there was no planned route each day, and no planned stop each evening, everything was an unknown.  The framework of the trip was a plan.  All the stuff in the middle was un-planned.  The tradeoff to structure is spontaneity, which in this case, made the trips so stimulating.

When I traveled to Europe at 28, I knew I was flying into Madrid and out of Munich.  The month in-between was filled in as I went.  I hadn’t firmly planned a week on Menorca (Balearic Island) and a week in Kos, an island off the coast of Turkey, now both nicely etched memories.  Nor did I plan the long bus trip from northern Greece through Yugoslavia, what now is Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia & H, and Croatia.  Nor did I plan to end up on the French/Swiss border in the town named after my ancestors.  Only the skeleton of the trip was a plan, everything in between was free-form.

In 1991, a friend Dave and I bought Harley Davidsons and took a week-long trip throughout a few of the western states.  Nothing firmly planned.  The next year I convinced a friend in Chicago to buy a HD.  Dave had two friends in Phoenix who had HDs so the six of us planned a two-week trip throughout the West.  We planned to stop for a couple of days in Sturgis, ND for the big annual HD rally.  We planned where we were starting and ending up, but nothing else.  Each day was a new discovery, a new route, a new stop.  Over years the group grew, routes became planned, stops and hotels planned.  As the group sprouted, so did the need for more plans.  In short order, the vacation plan became heavily structured.  The guys seemed to feel comfortable with the detailed plans.  The tradeoff of striping away spontaneity with structure killed the thrill.  I stopped going.  The group, now about 35 strong, including my friend Dave, still take the annual ride that we started 23 years ago, all well planned in advance.

When Plan A doesn't quite work out.

When Plan A doesn’t quite work out.

I’m not advocating floating in a free-form plan.  Down time requires planning.  Quality “now” time is usually the result of a good plan, or at least the framework of one.  With few exceptions, perhaps war, plans are made to improve something.  So whether it’s a business plan, diet plan, or weekend plan, 1, 5 or 10-yr plan, be grateful you can make them.  If you are looking for a little rally, enhancement, or change, go make a plan, because you can.

Now I’d better get off my duff and start making some serious plans.

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