Goals and Planning – When Things Go Wrong
Okay, so I thought I would just throw this blog post up because of my ridiculously silly, January 1st, start to the new year!
Spending the last month planning my New Year’s Goals, having everything worked out in minute detail- I know I was already asking for it at this point–somebody get a big soft pillow and hit me over the head with it, please. And being completely excited about getting going, my morning got off to a great start. My plan was set in motion with only a few small bumps, but generally I was feeling pretty happy with my progress.
When Silliness Strikes:
Sitting down to begin my two hours of slotted work-in-progress edits, I opened up my file to the sound of my daughter shouting from downstairs.
“What’s up?” I called.
“I think there’s something up with the stove.”
Hmm, putting my computer to sleep I headed downstairs, little did I know at this point that my computer wouldn’t be waking up again till much later that evening.
Walking into the kitchen, my daughter’s two semi-runny unfried eggs stared up at me from the pan with their big sad eyes.
“How long they been in there?”
“How about we slide them out of there and we can finish cooking them in the microwave.”
Sliding the gooey mess from the pan and onto a plate, I popped them into the microwave to show off my prowess in the kitchen. I hit the button and watched in horror as the microwave light dimmed like some late 1800s invention, as the plate slowly turned in the flickering light.
Pulling out the eggs one minute later, it appeared that the eggs may have congealed a little more, but they were definitely not cooking.
Being a determined kind of soul, I put the eggs back in and hit five minutes. Staring desperately through the window, I watched them turn as the lights overhead flickered in unison. Being from Scotland I never grew up with an Easy-Bake Oven, but watching that plate turn slowly, I imaged this must be what it’s like hoping that a 40 watt light bulb will produce beautifully baked delights.
“Go get Dad.”
By this point I pulled out a kitchen chair and watched my intelligent husband play with our new Easy-Bake, as the enormity of the situation hit me, how I was going to have my next cup of tea, I boil a kettle on that stove, I thought. It’s my life blood.
About thirty minutes later, after trying various appliances around the house, and watching the kitchen lights grow dimmer every time we hit a button, (though the toaster, worked a little too well for some bizarre reason, burning my last piece of rye bread too perfection!), my husband called the power company to discover that the most likely source was a voltage problem.
As we waited for some poor soul to be dragged into work, on his day off as it turned out, to assess the problem. I decided to go back to my computer determined to not let a little thing like loss of power stop me, as I sat down at my desk and hit the keyboard, hopeful since the toaster was apparently still in business, I discovered that my computer was selected as one of the lucky appliances in our house, to get New Year’s day off too, with the rest of the country. Fantastic.
I looked at my perfect writing plan printed out on my desk beside my keyboard and sighed.
So most of January 1st turned into sitting around waiting on a power company crew to turn up on a holiday and dig up our yard, whilst I proceeded to help my little boy build his Legos. Later I lay under the covers in bed reading a book, as it started to get colder and colder in the house, thinking, why didn’t this happen a couple of days ago when it was 70 degrees outside!
Anyway, not one to miss an opportunity to learn something, here is what I learned as far as planning and goal setting goes:
What I learned:
- I’m not half as smart as I like to think I am.
- I can easily fall into my old patterns, thinking that they are a great idea!
- That I don’t need to throw the baby out with the bath water and start all over.
- I have the ability to be flexible, if I bring lightness to the problem.
- That having fun and building Legos is sometimes just what I need.
- That leaving room to be spontaneous has its benefits!
- That sometimes I just need to be reminded that being with my family is more important than any silly plans I make.
- To go with the flow and not let bumps in the road ruin everything, and look for opportunities to embrace the day, anyway.
I still plan to forge ahead come Monday, but after having my plans messed up today, I took it as a sign to do some quick edits on my 2016 plan.
So I grabbed that meticulously printed out plan laying beside my dead keyboard and with a few quick strokes and listening carefully to that small still voice inside, I slashed everything before 10am off my list and everything after 8pm and felt the sweet ease of freedom slide in.
I’m an all-or-nothing kind of gal, but I also realized today that it’s important to have room to breathe. So, these are my ‘no rules, do whatever I want to do’ times. I can work if I want, but I’ve giving myself the permission to be flexible.
I can be a bit slow sometimes! This ain’t the first time I’ve banged my head against this particular wall, hopefully this time it’ll stick!
Have you ever found yourself making great plans only to find them dashed against the rocks moments later? Or have you found a way to plan and follow through on your goals that offers the flexibility to still get things done when your day goes awry. What is your experience with goal setting or planning?
Why don’t you share some of your ideas in the comments box below, along with any other suggestions, or anything else you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!
How do you plan?
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If I had a dollar for every time I had a perfect ready to execute (usually in the hopes of getting about a million things done THAT DAY!), something always seems to go horribly wrong…and usually it’s my own body. This often requires much need for doctor visits, tests, hospital stuff, unfun things that leave little room for getting things done, or I just don’t feel well and can’t get out of bed. Thankfully I haven’t had too many of those days in a while…though I have probably been doing a bit more when I’m not feeling well than I probably should but I’m notoriously bad at taking proper care of myself.
I think the best schedules, and the sanest/smartest people realize that there is an absolute need for flexibility. Life teaches us repeatedly that not everything can be accounted for. Better to know where you’re headed, but be okay if you have to take the scenic route.
Thanks so much for the post SK! I had my internet go out over Christmas so I was anxious not being able to do research or other work things. Glad you’re back in business though. Looking forward to all you have to share this year!
Thanks so much for your great comments DMG! I’m not going to pretend what it must be like personally, to have to require doctors and hospital visits and all the various tests required on an ongoing basis. Kudos to you for all that you get done!
My little boy who just turned two, had a very rough first year, spending 72 days in hospital, he was extremely ill, requiring two liver transplants and multiple life saving operations, it’s a miracle he is still with us! I am so grateful for him everyday!
Though the roller-coaster ride of an insane amount of tests, trips to the emergency room, and stays at the transplant hospital, took it’s toll on our family. Followed by another very nerve-racking six months, monitoring him closely and trying to keep him isolated due to his immunosuppression. Now we are in a much better place, but we do still have to do the blood tests and clinic visits.
I know what illness can do to goals and habits, where you just have to throw most of them out the window sometimes!
“Better to know where you’re headed, but be okay if you have to take the scenic route.”
I love this! Sometimes when we take the scenic route it can be filled with amazing surprises and delights, if we leave room for it to sneak in! Yes, there were amazing things happen, even in our darkest moments!
Thanks so much for sharing!
Ah, yes, Murphy’s Law. As positive and determined as I try to be, I am easily discouraged when my plans get derailed or even smashed all to pieces. Usually I find the first utterance of a goal, plan or resolution is the beginning of the end. For example, for NaNoWriMo, the minute I told my husband just a few days before November 1st “I have to write every day–at least something” and his response was “No you don’t, you just think you do” I have been struggling. He has apologized since, but as with many things like this, it has stuck with me. I haven’t set true goals or resolutions this year. I have a loose plan and I’m not sharing it. It has been my experience anytime I do anything for myself I pay for it in some way.
I know what you mean Kim, I like to try to keep things loose, I love to set goals and plans, but I try not get too attached to them and just do the best I can.
Your husband also sounds exactly like my husband, that’s the same thing he would say. I don’t think he understands the intensity of my commitment to certain things, but then I think there is some wisdom there too. I can take things far too seriously sometimes, I understand that intellectually, but the emotional part of me doesn’t co-operate so easily.
“It has been my experience anytime I do anything for myself I pay for it in some way.” That’s an intense statement, I would question it if I were you, ‘anytime’ or ‘anything’, are all-encompassing words, (words are powerful, they can shape our very experience). Maybe start prodding at it a little, start out small, go buy yourself a cup of coffee or a nice journal.
I do understand where you’re coming from, for example, I don’t really like my own birthday very much, when I have an expectation about it, it usually sucks! But if I just give up on it, and have little to no expectations, usually I have a really nice day.
We get stressed out when our expectations do not meet up with our reality! I think it’s okay to set an expectation / goal, but then hold it loosely, allowing it to be what it wants to be. Which is what you have done this year, a very wise move.
As far as sharing goals, I tend to keep them under my hat too!
Thanks so much for commenting and sharing!
Yesterday, my day was derailed by a dead battery. Today was likewise derailed because I had to take my truck to the shop. Diagnosis: I needed a new battery. (Could have used that money for something else.)
Since you asked for advice, get a gas stove. Then you can cook when the electricity goes out. Living in hurricane country, you learn to be prepared. I keep several gallon jugs of water stored away, just in case. One Thanksgiving, it paid off. With a house full of company, my pump went out! But I had water to flush toilets and heat on the gas stove to wash dishes.
Aren’t those power company guys wonderful? After a storm they’re out repairing lines as soon as it’s safe, day or night. My pump man would have charged twice to come out on a holiday.
Marie, sorry to hear about your two derailed days. And thank you for the great advice, we have been better set up in the past, gas is definitely something that is a great alternative. We have had gas stoves in the past, but unfortunately not this time. 🙁 My husband and I hope to buy a house one day, off-grid, so that we can be self-sufficient, if we choose. I bet that was wonderful on that Thanksgiving to have a back up plan!
Thanks so much for commenting and for the great advice!
I let my kids decide what my schedule is going to be. Usually my completed tasks consist of changing diapers, washing diapers, folding diapers, leaving clean diapers in the laundry basket until they run out, keeping my kids from killing each other and bed time.
Wow! Kudos to you for washing diapers, that takes me back to the 80’s sometime, when my little brother’s diaper pail (or nappy pail, if you’re Scottish!) used to stink up the house. That sounds like a full-time occupation in itself! Yes, and preventing siblings from killing each other is pretty time-consuming, I should probably rethink my plan and slot in at least two hours just for that alone 😉
Thanks for commenting and for sharing your schedule!
For me, if I make more than a basic, bare-bones plan, everything goes awry.
I’m an avid traveller and when I was younger my dad always gave us extremely detailed itineraries (imagine 6 and 10 year old with typed agendas–that was us). Anyway, as I got older I tried to follow this model, but it never went as smoothly for me as it did for him. But what I realized was that I loved the unexpected that happened when my plans went awry in a foreign land. Yeah, of course I started off freaked out, but those moments have come to be some of my most memorable experiences. Meeting people and seeing minute things that I could never have planned.
So now, even though I still create to do list, they are a lot looser. Basically, I need to get ‘x’ done, but unless I have a concrete deadline for something, my only expectation is that I will get it done, when heaven and earth aligns and I can.
This is great advice, Leah! I’m a pantser when it comes to my writing, because when I plan too much, it squeezes all the juice and the unexpected out of my adventures! I’m not sure why some part of me insists on these silly lists, I usually get to the goals I set, but not by tight schedules! Though, they do look pretty when they’re all typed out 🙂
Your dad typing up agendas, makes me think of my husband, who likes to hand these out to our kids for cleaning the kitchen, I don’t know maybe one day it’ll stick 😉
Thanks so much for sharing and commenting!
My daughter shared this quote recently, and I have it posted above my desk: “When something goes wrong in your life, just yell ‘Plot Twist’ and move on!” It was life-affirming for her after an auto accident in which she suffered a traumatic brain injury a few years ago. Thankfully, she has fully recovered. It has also helped me over a few much less traumatic occasions in my life when the unexpected has smashed my comfortable and carefully laid out plans. I hate the idea of change, but once it is forced on me, I can look back and see the benefits the change has brought.
Nancy, I love this idea, how wonderful. Plot twist! See this is exactly the kind of statement I need, tell your daughter thank you, and that she is brilliant. What a fantastic re-frame for writers, when thing so awry. I’m so sorry to hear about your daughters accident, but I am glad to hear that she recovered fully.
Thank you so much for commenting and for sharing this, I think I will be posting it above my desk too!
I love this too! I will definitely be pinning this up somewhere. Thanks to your daughter for me too 🙂
I think the same holds true for homeschoolers 🙂 Plans help to diagram out the day, week, month, year, unit study,etc. but life is sneaky like those invisibility cloaks in the Harry Potter movies…WHAM! BOOM! Out of nowhere, messy, sticky, PB and J hands snatch away our planners and smudge them all up, forcing us to do the C word…CHANGE! I really truly LOVE the idea having a plan of action for each day of the week, goals for the month and year, but I just can’t seem to stick to it. I so want to be that person — I love lists and the checking off of tasks completed, but I work so much better when spontaneity is my guide. Thankfully, as a freelancer, I can indulge my inner spontaneous self and scoff at my planner sitting quietly in the corner on my desk. Just pray there is no coup looming on the horizon as my planner, post its, and tentative lists written in pencil rise up and …MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
Wishing you great success as you forge ahead being sure to schedule in a little bit of spontaneity!!
Thanks so much Karen, for stopping by! I too love lists, and I have post-its everywhere, you should see my desk! I wish you every success with your planner, maybe you can sneak up on it and make some head way! Here’s to success with homeschool and writing plans, with a dash of spontaneity thrown in! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂