Plan on Not Planning

 

I’ve got many plans, and most of them revolve around not planning.

It sounds contradictory, I know, but it’s really not.

Consider this: it’s difficult to make yourself just jump headfirst into a new situation without working out some of the details ahead of time.

Where will I stay? Who will I talk to? How will I eat? What will I do for money?

All valid questions. All questions that you don’t need to answer before leaping.

Sometimes you are at a disadvantage by not having a plan. Some necessities are time-sensitive and you really do yourself justice by figuring out the details ahead of time.

Many decisions, however, are best made when you have the most information possible, and you won’t have ALL the information you could have until the very last second.

So from time to time, make yourself leap. Don’t worry about having a parachute or a way back up the cliff, just go.

The only way you’ll get better at improvising is by forcing yourself to do it. Start with smaller jumps at first, but do it consistently enough that you don’t lose your reflexes.

This way, if something happens to you that forces you to react impulsively and you don’t have time to prepare, you’ll be ready.

Also, it’s a hell of a lot more fun.

24 comments

  1. Hey Colin,

    I like to plan and have everything really nailed down – especially with regards to my work, my goals, and anything I’m trying to accomplish.

    When I travel though, I’m almost the exact opposite. I will plan some rough ideas and set aside a couple hours or a day here or there if there is something specific I *really* want to do – but otherwise I think you’re right, it’s more fun to let that go and just enjoy things as they come =)

  2. Hey Colin,

    I like to plan and have everything really nailed down – especially with regards to my work, my goals, and anything I’m trying to accomplish.

    When I travel though, I’m almost the exact opposite. I will plan some rough ideas and set aside a couple hours or a day here or there if there is something specific I *really* want to do – but otherwise I think you’re right, it’s more fun to let that go and just enjoy things as they come =)

  3. Yes yes yes!!!! GOOOOO GIIIIIIRL!!!!! (remind me never to comment after zumba class. I am way too pumped to make sense).

    But here goes: I think this is the ONLY way to travel! Almost all of the time the details work themselves out and if you’re not glued to plan, letting them unfold is just so much more fun. It does however take a certain type of person who is really okay with a) doing things alone, because you won’t always find someone to come along and b)really letting go of control, because there is just no way you can enjoy yourself if you’re constantly thinking about what you would rather be doing if you were in charge.

    Cheers!!!!! I want some pink energizing liquid right now. Too bad I sooooooooo don’t need it. Aaaaah! ok ok.

  4. Yes yes yes!!!! GOOOOO GIIIIIIRL!!!!! (remind me never to comment after zumba class. I am way too pumped to make sense).

    But here goes: I think this is the ONLY way to travel! Almost all of the time the details work themselves out and if you’re not glued to plan, letting them unfold is just so much more fun. It does however take a certain type of person who is really okay with a) doing things alone, because you won’t always find someone to come along and b)really letting go of control, because there is just no way you can enjoy yourself if you’re constantly thinking about what you would rather be doing if you were in charge.

    Cheers!!!!! I want some pink energizing liquid right now. Too bad I sooooooooo don’t need it. Aaaaah! ok ok.

  5. This resonates with me because I’m in the process of quitting my corporate job. I have some income streams flowing and I’m not going to miss any meals, but the whole “make enough money to live comfortably” is something I have yet to nail down. And that’s ok.

    I take comfort in the fact that being forced into a position where my comfortable existence requires me to innovate and perform will cause me to come up with better, more effective solutions/products/services. Thanks for the reminder.

    ::leaps::

  6. This resonates with me because I’m in the process of quitting my corporate job. I have some income streams flowing and I’m not going to miss any meals, but the whole “make enough money to live comfortably” is something I have yet to nail down. And that’s ok.

    I take comfort in the fact that being forced into a position where my comfortable existence requires me to innovate and perform will cause me to come up with better, more effective solutions/products/services. Thanks for the reminder.

    ::leaps::

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  8. Such good advice! I pretty much always operate by this theory when it’s possible – and sometimes, even when it is not.

  9. Good small post Colin. It is true, most of us are used to have every bit of info before doing anything.

    Truth is most of the time this can’t be done and the feeling of not knowing can paralyze people (I know this one for sure), but once you start opening something different happens. You are a great example of this.

    Thanks for sharing all this month, so far you are doing great, keep it up man!

  10. Good small post Colin. It is true, most of us are used to have every bit of info before doing anything.

    Truth is most of the time this can’t be done and the feeling of not knowing can paralyze people (I know this one for sure), but once you start opening something different happens. You are a great example of this.

    Thanks for sharing all this month, so far you are doing great, keep it up man!

  11. I call that “core focus”. Lol. It’s like having an overall focus for a period of time without the need to plan “in detail”. Things usually change at the most inappropriate moment—so it’s not worth the time spent jotting everything down at a go.

    It’s always better to prepare the necessities along with knowing what needs to be done before stepping forward, and … just have fun along the way as you get things done. :)

  12. I call that “core focus”. Lol. It’s like having an overall focus for a period of time without the need to plan “in detail”. Things usually change at the most inappropriate moment—so it’s not worth the time spent jotting everything down at a go.

    It’s always better to prepare the necessities along with knowing what needs to be done before stepping forward, and … just have fun along the way as you get things done. :)

  13. That’s the very philosophy that got me into the following situation:

    I cruised into Dublin late one evening and could only find one place to sleep: a cooed room in a rowdy hostel. (I like men, though I generally chose not to bunk with men I don’t know).

    All seemed quiet when I turned in and I found myself alone. I was sleeping soundly when suddenly a bunch of unruly men speaking in an unrecognizable language woke me from my sleep. Luckily, they shut up when they saw me.

    In the morning, I awoke with chubby white dudes in their underwear cruising about–I was in the midst of a Welsh bachelor party. . . every girl’s dream, right?

    The best was that they kept trying to get me to say something ‘typically American. . .’ !?!?!

  14. You just said everything I’ve been thinking and living for the last three months. I’ve had many people tell me I need to figure out what I’m doing and where I am going.

    Bottom line, I have no clue where I will be next year or even next month. What I do know is that I am the happiest I’ve ever been, and my life both personally and professionally is thriving now that I’ve planned to not plan.

  15. You just said everything I’ve been thinking and living for the last three months. I’ve had many people tell me I need to figure out what I’m doing and where I am going.

    Bottom line, I have no clue where I will be next year or even next month. What I do know is that I am the happiest I’ve ever been, and my life both personally and professionally is thriving now that I’ve planned to not plan.

  16. We’ve had people write us and ask if they could travel with us for certain parts of our RTW journey. While we’re humbled that people think it would be interesting to travel with us, we would drive people absolutely crazy for the reason you talk about here. We hardly ever plan anything until we actually get there. And even when we get there, our plans usually change numerous times before we decide what we’re really going to do. The closer you get to a location/situation the more information options become available and sometimes you decide that you don’t really want to do that thing/place after all because you find out about something different. This uncertainty drives a lot of people batty, but it works for us and it has made our life (professionally and personally) more engaging and fulfilling.

  17. We’ve had people write us and ask if they could travel with us for certain parts of our RTW journey. While we’re humbled that people think it would be interesting to travel with us, we would drive people absolutely crazy for the reason you talk about here. We hardly ever plan anything until we actually get there. And even when we get there, our plans usually change numerous times before we decide what we’re really going to do. The closer you get to a location/situation the more information options become available and sometimes you decide that you don’t really want to do that thing/place after all because you find out about something different. This uncertainty drives a lot of people batty, but it works for us and it has made our life (professionally and personally) more engaging and fulfilling.

  18. @Sid: Yeah, rough guidelines – if any – are the way to go. Allows you to just take things as they come and have novel experiences.

    @Kristin: Haha, I actually chose that photo because that trip down to Disneyland was pretty last minute, and we didn’t have a real plan of action other than how we were going to sneak in.

    @Willie: Exactly! *round of applause*

    @Kirsten: Haha, it’s good to attempt the impossible, because even if you fail you learn something valuable!

    @Alejandro: Thanks buddy! Avoiding ‘paralysis by analysis’ is tough, but gets easier and easier as you practice not needing to analyze quite so much before acting.

    @Daniel: For sure. I find the best preparation is to invest in yourself so that you’re always prepared for ANYTHING. That way, no matter what happens, you’ll always be capable and confident in yourself; the best way to be in any situation, familiar or unfamiliar.

    @Simple in France: Hahaha, love it! That’s the good stuff. Get any photos? Sounds like a blog-worthy experience!

    @Sean: And that’s exactly where you should be. Great to hear that things are still going so well for you, buddy!

    @Audrey: This is the exact trouble I’m running into trying to plan an Around the US blogging tour for the month in between New Zealand and wherever I go next. I want to connect with everyone I’ve been talking to online from the US, but I have no idea when I’ll arrive at a given spot! I know from experience that road tripping is best when you’re not stressed about getting somewhere – that way you can really enjoy the journey. Hmm…guess I need to think on this more!

  19. @Sid: Yeah, rough guidelines – if any – are the way to go. Allows you to just take things as they come and have novel experiences.

    @Kristin: Haha, I actually chose that photo because that trip down to Disneyland was pretty last minute, and we didn’t have a real plan of action other than how we were going to sneak in.

    @Willie: Exactly! *round of applause*

    @Kirsten: Haha, it’s good to attempt the impossible, because even if you fail you learn something valuable!

    @Alejandro: Thanks buddy! Avoiding ‘paralysis by analysis’ is tough, but gets easier and easier as you practice not needing to analyze quite so much before acting.

    @Daniel: For sure. I find the best preparation is to invest in yourself so that you’re always prepared for ANYTHING. That way, no matter what happens, you’ll always be capable and confident in yourself; the best way to be in any situation, familiar or unfamiliar.

    @Simple in France: Hahaha, love it! That’s the good stuff. Get any photos? Sounds like a blog-worthy experience!

    @Sean: And that’s exactly where you should be. Great to hear that things are still going so well for you, buddy!

    @Audrey: This is the exact trouble I’m running into trying to plan an Around the US blogging tour for the month in between New Zealand and wherever I go next. I want to connect with everyone I’ve been talking to online from the US, but I have no idea when I’ll arrive at a given spot! I know from experience that road tripping is best when you’re not stressed about getting somewhere – that way you can really enjoy the journey. Hmm…guess I need to think on this more!

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  21. When my parents came to visit me in my dorm room (loving that btw. they’re fun people) they started to ask me about my future plans. I said I didn’t have anything planned out yet. And that I did that on purpose so I could focus better on the now, that is finishing my final thesis. My dad understood, my mom didn’t.

  22. When my parents came to visit me in my dorm room (loving that btw. they’re fun people) they started to ask me about my future plans. I said I didn’t have anything planned out yet. And that I did that on purpose so I could focus better on the now, that is finishing my final thesis. My dad understood, my mom didn’t.

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