Perfect Plan to Go to Pieces

I am a planner, through and through. I like to know what my week looks like ahead of time. I love lists, check-lists, grocery lists, follow-up lists. I like to review restaurant menus before meals. I feel a sense of comfort in knowing what to expect.

Life doesn’t always work like that though. We can be completely prepared and have all of our deadlines recorded and meetings scheduled, but life happens. Loved ones need us, plans change, expectations don’t get met. Life can get messy.

I used to let this stress me out. Something would come up and I’d watch my perfectly organized plan fall to pieces. All the work I put into setting it up and identifying tasks, poof. This made me realize something, though.

It’s not about the plan, it’s about the action. I make plans to prepare myself for situations, but there is really no substitute for diving in. When I started my journey of becoming a chiropractor I could have written down all of the various steps needed to get there and assigned myself deadlines for each. I could take the time to write down something like “research programs and pick the best” or, I could open my Internet browser and start researching right away. Likewise, today I can look at a missed call and schedule time for myself to return the call, or I can dial the number then and there and take action.

Don’t get me wrong, schedules with deadlines are great things. They keep progress happening and allow for following up. Breaking big projects into bite-sized pieces can be helpful, just don’t let yourself get wrapped up spending hours doing this.

So often, I feel like I’ve allowed “taking action” to become this big ordeal. I feel like I need to have a plan A and a plan B. I need to know the answer to every question that might come up and all the pieces have to be in place. I’ve realized this is incredibly self-sabotaging though. I allow myself to stay in my comfort zone by making myself busy with planning and preparing.

John Lennon said it best, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Don’t let yourself get caught in the lie that you need to have it all figured out. Whether you are thinking of a career change, striving to get healthier, or committing to learning a new skill, remember that life is about taking action every day.

One of my favorite mental models for moving forward is the concept of 0 days. The idea is that no matter what, every day you do something to move the needle on your goals. Whether that’s something small like choosing water instead of soda at lunch or something big like enrolling in that program, take the action. Don’t spend your life planning for how you’ll get there. Put one foot in front of the other, pick up the phone, send that email; whatever your next step is, stop dreaming of it and take action.