I keep droning on about how obsessed I am with walking. Specifically, my ritual Walk and Talk Saturday sessions with my partner. One of the most important things we do on these walks is check in with each other – see how we’re tracking towards our individual goals as well as dream and plan for some of the bigger things we each want in life.
Maybe I’m late to this planning party, but I’m finally starting to feel like I’m in the groove of this thing. I’ve written before about how I break my year in half and tackle manageable short-term goals with the Dreamline structure.
I swear I wasn’t always like this.
Back when I was a gypsy nomad, I could be quoted as saying “I never plan my life more than 6 months in advance.” I was living and working seasonally and enjoying the carefree bliss that can only be ascribed to the decade that is our 20s.
Thirty-years-old, settled into my hometown(city) of Toronto, and surrounded by the mentally fabricated pressure of keeping-up-with-the-joneses (aka acquaintances from my past that bear no actual consequence on my life), comparisonitis can start to creep in.
There’s a lot that my partner and I want in life and so many of these goals can feel far out of reach. But we shouldn’t be so quick to forget how far we’ve come. I’ve travelled to over 60 countries for goodness sake!
Future planning used to stress me out. And it still does lead to a large sense of overwhelm when I get bogged down thinking about the seemingly vast expanse between where I am now and where I want to get to.
Something that’s really helped me with managing my ability to plan for the future is to think of it as if I were planning my next vacation. With this framework in place, future planning becomes a little more fun and a little less scary.
Let’s say you’re going to San Francisco in the spring. You know you want to see the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset and check out the Haight-Ashbury district. And you can’t miss the bakery your pastry-obsessed friend recommended.
You have three days in the city and chances are you can cram a lot more into your itinerary than these few highlights. But do you really want to? A trip can end up feeling more like bootcamp when you’re running around each destination trying to tick off every tourist attraction. This leaves little room for spontaneity and even less room just to simply breathe and enjoy.
With a three-day itinerary, you can plan to tick off one highlight each day and leave room for whatever else feels right in the moment. By building wiggle room into your plans, you can relax. When ease is the overall feeling, you’ll leave the vacation having had a better time overall.
Let’s use this analogy for planning out your dreams and desires for life. You might want to buy a plot of land and build your dream home. For some, having children is something they’ve always wanted. Each of us can define a few core wants for this lifetime. What’s less easy to determine is the path we’ll travel to get there.
This is where the wiggle room approach becomes valuable. You want to build structure towards your few non-negotiable goals, then allow room for spontaneity and improvisation along the way to make life fun.
If you’re like me, even those few non-negotiable goals are really tricky to define. And that’s fine too. You know you want a vacation – it could be anywhere – and you’re determined to enjoy yourself, wherever you end up!
When we release control and allow ourselves space, that’s when life falls into a flow that truly works for us.