Thursday, August 30, 2012

When Planning For the Future Is Another Form of Laziness

While decluttering my house, I found several old notebooks I used for journaling and listmaking through the years. As I flipped through the pages, a sinking feeling came over me. I still have so many of the same struggles, worries, and frustrations. In some cases, I even have similar lists of changes I need to make and goals I want to accomplish. In some areas of my life, I can see clear growth and progress, and that’s encouraging. But in so many areas, it seems as though I am constantly spinning my wheels.

It is clear from looking at these old notebooks that I know the things I need to do, but in many cases I haven’t demonstrated the ability and/or self-discipline to follow through.

The “shoulds” get me every time. I can be so distracted by making lists of what I should do and coming up with plans for personal improvement that I forget to focus on what I can do in that moment. I am more likely to look at the situation and think, “I should come up with better screen time rules for the kids; they are in front of screens too much and I am too, so I should implement xyz” instead of, “Hmm, we’ve all been in front of screens too much today. Time to turn ‘em off and play a board game!” See the difference?

I’ve noticed that when I quit focusing on the “shoulds,” and stop getting hung up on my perceived failures… when I look at the present moment instead of projecting so much into the future… I am better able to do what I know needs to be done. I have wasted so much time and energy making plans and procedures for future improvement, rather than focusing simply on what can be done in that particular moment.

But it’s easier for me to make lists about future change than it is to make a different choice in the moment. Planning for the future can be deceptively lazy; it looks and feels like I’m doing something worthwhile and productive when I am actually putting off making the changes under the guise of “planning.”

Looking back at my last few years of lists and journals, it’s clear that detailing my shortcomings and making lists of goals and plans hasn’t worked for me. I don’t need more systems and plans; I need to be present and active in the moment.

So, I’m gonna try that. ;)

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