You guys, my Passion Planner is all filled out and highlighted and it looks like a unicorn licked it and I fucking love the fuck out of it.
Like, I literally get stoked on planning.
But guys, also? This was not always the case. Planning used to feel like jail to me. It was ike every time I wrote down a planned commitment, I was just signing my freedom away.
So I continued operating based on this idea that I was someone who "wings it" and was free-spirited and spontaneous. It was fucking adorable. I rebelled against anything that made me feel like I was being fenced in.
It wasn't until later that I realized what was actually fencing me in was my complete lack of a plan. It was a very awkward moment of self-awareness.
I knew I wanted my life to look different (vague,) but I had no clear goals (strike one.) I only knew myself as a creative (valid,) but I was hardly ever creating anything (strike two.) I knew I wanted the regular presence of joy in my life (great!) but I wasn't acting on anything that would actually bring it (UGH, strike three.)
There's no crying in baseball, but oh my god there was so much crying in my FACE.
So once I wiped the snot off my ears, (you guys, you know there are no rules in ugly-crying,) I did what any overexcited and overambitious creative would do:
I bought a shit ton of art supplies, duh.
I made these black dry-erase boards out of glossy folders, and I got neon dry-erase pens. I stuck the boards all along the wall in my little studio apartment, each one designated for a different passion or interest. There was one for music, one for art, one for writing, one for this, another for that...
When I was done, there were 5 or 6 different boards. And I filled each one with everything I wanted to "get done" in each area.
I was super proud of myself when I went to bed that night. I smiled at my pretty neon writing as I drifted off to sleep, dreaming about how much I was about to achieve.
Two weeks later, I had barely gotten through maybe two things I wanted to do, let alone six boards' worth of a billion things each. Naturally, I despaired.
"I can't even do six boards' worth of a billion things each," I said to myself. "I am an absolute and utter creative failure."
Was that the truth? No, it was not But the truth was that in an effort to correct my issue of nothing-doing, I went directly to the other extreme of everything-doing. And guys, the result was literally the same: zero progress.
Life is made up of many different pieces. We have things we want to create, we have jobs, we have families, we have laundry. Whatever those pieces are, for us to be in balance, they have to all work together. Even though we'd all like to forget about the laundry and just keep creating, we kinda can't, or else we're fucked at the next underpants-non-negotiable event we're attending (hint: this is unfortunately most days for most adults.)
It took me years to finally figure out that successful planning is all about reality.
We can't ignore reality, escape it or snap our fingers to make it something it's just not. What we can do is embrace it, roll with it and take small steps to make it what we want it to become.
It's been a long time now that I've considered planning to be my path to freedom. Every time I look at the highlighted chunks of time on my calendar, I get excited because I'm literally looking at tangible proof that I'm creating my own reality.
Good planning is like good sex: you've got to push a little, but you don't need to break it or reinvent it.
The next time you sit down to plan, do a reality check. What else do you have going on in your life? Where can you fit new goals in, and how much can you actually fit? When and where can you add a little more?
And always, always remember that the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
Hell, even the journey from here to the fridge starts that way.