In last week’s post, I shared my intention to bring a little more laughter into my life. It is amazing how something so simple, can actually be really challenging. It is like unlearning years of a pattern or habit that in many ways served you well, but perhaps now, not so much. But setting the intention, and sharing it with all of you, has helped. When I found myself feeling strict or stern or heavy, I was able to bring up what I wrote, and shift just a bit.
In the spirit of continued self disclosure, and desire for self improvement, I am sharing another goal with you this week. And here it is: plan less. That is it. Plan less.
Again, something that might sound entirely simple and easy, but difficult for me.
All of my life, I have been a planner. Planning is what allowed me to get good grades throughout school. To manage the overwhelm of tests, papers, extra curricular activities, volunteerism, board examinations, applications, interviews, moves across the country, and everything else I had to do in order to become a physician and start my own practice. Planning has been good to me, and has served an important need.
The downside of planning is constantly living with one foot in the future. In many ways, planning is preparation in order to soothe fear. We fear failing the test so we plan out weeks of studying. We fear our children not getting into college, so we plan out years of activities. We fear running out of money, so we save endlessly for retirement.
I realize that for me, planning is a fear based activity. When I make decisions based on fear, I lose my ability to connect with what my deepest intuition is telling me. I cannot hear the whispers of my heart. I cannot feel my breath or my body. I am guiding myself mostly from a brain based anxiety, rather than slowing down, becoming quiet, and listening to what the moment itself is asking of me.
The wisdom of the moment might tell me that I don’t really want to retire; what I want is to create work that I love and want to do for as long as I can do it. My intuition tells me that my children need to play more, discover their innate skills and passions, and cultivate a love of learning. My intuition also tells me that when I worry about a nine and eight year old getting into college, my worry eclipses my ability to love them as they are as nine and eight year olds. It makes me more inclined to haul out the workbooks, rather than blow bubbles with them, or eat ice cream before dinner just this once.
I still think it is lovely to set goals. I would love to write a book in the next few years, and grow my blog, and deepen my expertise in psychiatry, and build more muscle, and all sorts of other things. But instead of strategizing exactly how that is going to happen step by step, I want to trust. Trust that if those goals were meant for me, my heart will guide me moment by moment in the direction towards manifesting them. And this may not be your way, or even the right way, and perhaps it wouldn’t have even been my way fifteen or twenty years ago.
But for now, this is what feels right for me.
So I am going to release my tight grip on the future just a little bit, as best as a planned, controlled, mildly neurotic person like myself is able to do. And instead of worrying about what I will do over the next week and month and year, I am simply going to think about what comes next. What is unfolding right now? I don’t want to miss it. When I bring myself back from the future, what will I hear from my spirit in the here and now? I don’t want to miss it.
So today and in the week ahead, I invite you to reflect upon how and why you plan. How has it been a positive thing? Has planning had its challenges? What would it feel like to plan a little less?
With gratitude, Monisha