Planning Ahead

by Nancy Brook on November 28, 2015

I’ve always been a planner.

It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, I always have a running list of things I am planning to do…

Taking a class, planning a trip, creating a menu for the coming week, evaluating my options- no matter what is going on in the world around me, I am always looking ahead at what else I can be doing. In some ways, it may seem like somewhat of a distraction. Planning the future to avoid having to focus on the present. Thinking about tomorrow instead of working on what needs to be done right now. There is so much talk about being mindful these days, about showing up in the present and stepping fully into what is happening in this exact moment. I recently came back from a class that focused on this exact topic- for an entire weekend. For three days, a group of Stanford nurses brainstormed about how to be more mindful both at work and in their personal time. Most of  the nurses worked in the intensive care unit- where their job literally required constant multi-tasking. The retreat was an opportunity to slow down and focus on being more mindful in all areas of their lives.

But for me, planning ahead has nothing to do with not being mindful. I almost see it as quite the opposite. It’s about planning the future intentionally so that each and every minute is spent the best way possible. My life is full, with ┬ámany compartments; kids, work, volunteer activities and every unexpected thing that comes up in between. I know I am not alone- in fact, I’m guessing that many of you are “busy” as well. Life moves quickly and I notice that if I am not thinking ahead that opportunities are missed. If I don’t plan ahead for the school week my daughter may not have a lunch. If I don’t plan ahead for the holidays my friends or family may make other plans. This year I am planning ahead for the winter break. My kids are getting older. I want to spend some time together with them doing something we enjoy. Planning ahead brings me joy. I get to imagine the fun we’ll have together; swimming in the ocean, sight-seeing, riding roller coasters…as if my plans were just perfect. Of course, they don’t always work out the way I imagine, but they always bring new experiences and a whole lot of photos to look back at and smile.

If there is something you have been thinking about doing, why not take a few minutes to plan ahead. Life takes so many twists and turns, and let’s face it sometimes there are circumstances beyond our control. If you want to take a trip, take a friend to lunch, or even take on a new venture, think it through, do the research (or have someone help you) and make it a reality. Next year at this time you could be looking back on a cherished memory.

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