Lately, I find myself at my big living room window every afternoon, watching a chipmunk run down the stairs, grab stuff (food, I assume), run back up the stairs, and dart under a piece of patio where he lives. He does this over and over at approximately the same time each day. Winter is in the air. OK, sure, it’s still summer, officially, but here in the Colorado mountains, winter is right around the corner. The chipmunk knows this. He has a plan to live, to make it, to succeed, and it’s been working quite well thus far because he’s been living here as long as I’ve been here, and when I got here, he seemed more at home than me, so I think it’s been working for him a very long time. (The nerd in me scurries off to look up the lifespan of a chipmunk.) He has a plan. He sticks to the plan. He succeeds by being alive.
I keep running into the theme of Planning. In books, in the Bible, in real life moments.
“When you go through life making it up as you go, trouble lurks just one light-bulb moment away. Guaranteed.” -Chazown: Define Your Vision. Pursue Your Passion. Live Your Life on Purpose. by Craig Groeschel
That passage in the book brought me to a screeching halt. Not that I haven’t known that this method doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t. I’ve tried it. For approximately 30 years (I’m not trying to say I’m younger than I am, only that it’s not as likely I was flying by the seat of my pants or could plan well for the first several years of my life.) it has. not. worked.
I’m sure people in general need to plan for better success, but I’m a girl who NEEDS to plan. Like…N.E.E.D.S. to. On occasions where I’ve made a plan, I’ve done well. I’ve been overall pleased with myself. But when I don’t plan? Watch me flop.
I live in a very spontaneous way, despite how it looks. I often allow my emotions to direct my actions, rather than rational thought (thank goodness for my husband and my best friend!). I’m aware of it, but I’ve rarely done anything to change it. A lot of this behavior, besides personality, came out of childhood, I think. There wasn’t much time for planning. We just took things one day at a time. Sure, I had plans for my future – or rather, dreams. But at no point in time that I can remember did I ever map out a real plan. The only plan I had was to get out of the situation I was in, but that “plan,” unfortunately, landed me in another situation where I then needed another plan.
Rather than real planning, I’ve just run from one scene to the next. I was mortified last night as I realized how I’ve carried that behavior into my present life. All the things I messed up because I couldn’t stick to a plan, all the jobs I left, the college I walked away from, etc.
“If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect to get there?” -Basil S. Walsh
At least once a year, I come to this realization — that I don’t know what I’m doing, where I’m going. I pat myself on the head…there, there…and appease myself with platitudes, and then I charge forward again, without coming up with…A PLAN! I don’t know where I’m going; how in the world am I supposed to get there? Ignorance is not bliss. Not at all.
In my first semester of school, my public speaking teacher (shout out to the awesome Regina Lewis!) told us we should treat our college plan as a thesis. Which takes planning. Good idea!
I meant for others, apparently. I didn’t do it. School became a big flop for me. I floundered because I didn’t feel like I had direction. Sure, my grades were fine, but my attitude was not. Now I’m facing the consequences of an emotionally-driven decision to run away from it. But how different would it have gone had I planned my steps? Likely, this past May’s graduation ceremony would have featured me getting to walk the stage.
I didn’t plan out any of my books. “What books?” Exactly. They’re not really books if you never finish them or go back to edit the first drafts. That would take PLANNING.
Grocery shopping? Dinners? Martha Stewart doesn’t live here, but it gets so pathetic she could likely be talked into starting a charity for me – or rather, the family.
Business? OK, I’m working on a plan. But if you’re paying attention, I should have had a plan before I started business. That way, I’d have fewer headaches, chaotic episodes, and changes to the whole thing. This making it up as I go stuff isn’t working for me here, either.
Sheesh, I’ve even read my Bible less and less since I decided I no longer needed to follow the daily plan. I told myself that it was because it was feeling routine, but I think it was more that I hated feeling accountable to a plan — because me and plans aren’t the best of friends, as you’ve gathered. (Note to self: Print out a new Bible plan. This is the most important plan — to know God and HIS plans for me.)
I’m not at all writing this to point and laugh at my own failures or to beat myself up. I’m writing it because I need to make myself accountable in some very public way. I’m writing it because I need to make real changes in my life. I’m writing it because I’m not getting any younger. I’m writing it because I can’t keep spinning my wheels and hoping to actually get somewhere.
I’m writing it so I can mark BLOG off of today’s TO-DO List.
“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” -Proverbs 16:3
Step One: Commit to the Lord whatever I do — got it, do it. Check. Done.
Step Two: Make some plans.