This week I’ve been having a lot of fun designing colourful spreadsheets and creating calendars of work for the coming year.
I like this kind of planning. I think partly it’s just a complicated, technology based form of procrastination, but it also makes me feel more in control of work, and gives me the confidence to feel I can legitimately claim to be knowing what I’m doing.
Outside of work though, I find planning very difficult, whether it be the ‘what shall I take out of the freezer for dinner tonight’ type planning, or something a little more long-term. I just can’t help but think ‘How do I know?’
How do I know when I’m standing in Sainsbury’s on a Saturday morning, staring vacantly at rows upon rows of different types of sausage and shapes of pasta, exactly what I’m going to fancy to eat on Thursday?
I just don’t do I?
And if I can’t even say for sure how I’m going to feel about something as simple as shopping a week from now, how on earth can I say with any certainty what my priorities are going to be a year, five or ten years from now?
I just can’t.
It can be quite frustrating. I often wish I was one of those people with clear goals and ambitions, so I could have a colour coded spreadsheet of my future, with the jobs, cars, homes and holidays I wanted clearly set out in nice, neatly formatted boxes. It would be brilliant wouldn’t it? You could have a plan for getting to each target, and a nice warm feeling as you reached each milestone and ticked the box.
My problem is though that I know that by the time I got to each milestone, I probably wouldn’t want it any more. Or I’d tick the box and go ‘is that it?’, expecting something more tangible, more rewarding than just, well, than just a ticked box.
Some might call it fickle. I like to think of it more, when I’m being kind to myself, as living in the moment, of remaining open to whatever exciting possibilities life might throw at me. Although to be honest that makes me sound rather more interesting than I actually am. It conjures up images of spontaneous round the world windsurfing adventures, or all night parties with strangers in abandoned barns, and quite frankly I’d rather be at home with a cup of tea and a biscuit, so maybe I am just fickle.
Or maybe it’s just that as humans we aren’t meant to be so worried about what the future may hold. Cavemen didn’t have spreadsheets or diaries or stakeholder pensions did they? Children don’t waste time worrying about how much money they think should be earning by the time they’re forty, and they seem pretty happy most of the time. (Except for Belle who howls like a dog when I make her switch off the TV).
What do you think about long-term planning? Can it be a useful way to help you realise your goals, or do we risk not noticing the shifting goal posts?