I am a planner. I learned early on in my life that I am able to get large numbers of things done if I plan my activities. That now thoroughly internalized quality has served me well. It helped me succeed in school. My planning has allowed me to accomplish much of what I set out to do professionally. I am able to stay healthy at least partly because I plan what to eat and when to exercise and practice yoga. It is so much a part of how I behave in the world that it is also one of the ways I describe who I am. I am a planner.
Then, as life will have it, something happens that is not part of the plan.
My usual reaction would be to freeze; don’t do anything until I can understand the consequences and plan my next action. Fortunately, I have family and friends who encourage me to step into the change, to view it as an adventure.
My most recent experience of stepping into the unplanned was related to vacation. I had the opportunity to leave the country a week before I expected to do so with about 24 hours to take care of everything that was required of me! As anyone who knows me well would tell you, taking advantage of this unplanned situation is not my strong suit.
Events like this make me wonder what aspects of my life I may have limited by so heavily endorsing this one characteristic. There is no question that being a planner makes me more rigid. Since I already have a plan, I am not inclined to step outside the path I have set. If I have no plan or expectation for a particular activity or endeavor, I am able to be flexible, and that certainly can be fun and freeing. I am sure doing some things in an unplanned way allows me to be more open to the experience and to lessons I can learn from the new circumstance.
I am sure there are many other qualities that people have that limit how they behave in the world, even if those characteristics also allow them to succeed in certain ways. I think of the person who is averse to taking risks. They are always safe but experience little that is new. And the person who goes rapidly from one new thing to the next, rarely following through on what they start. And the one who is set in their ways, unable to incorporate modern ways of doing things.
What characteristics do you, or your organization, have that assure you certain successes, but limit you at the same time? What might need to happen to help you see those qualities . . . and even to change them? What might make it easier for you to move with and through change? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the Comments section below.
Oh, by the way, the extra week of vacation was great and I learned lots about how I want to travel and how I do not want to do so! The unplanned parts were at least as much fun as the planned ones, if not more so.