Life is essentially a series of events which naturally lead to one another. Yet, it seems that everywhere you look, there is something rather unnatural coming to the surface: a pressure we feel to control how these events will unfold.
Within a culture of “getting shit done”, there’s quite such a tendency to be a control freak, and a urge to plan everything. Such is the daily grind of the achiever. Everywhere, from self-help books, to online articles or Pinterest boards, it seems that success, or happiness, or health, all comes down to planning. Scheduling. Controlling. It seems that through that, we can finally control our own fate. And that… is a synonym of ambition.
Bloggers and instagrammers set up an editorial calendar for their posts, some of which are planned months in advance. Entrepreneurial souls go crazy on business planning, setting boundaries and literally hawking their every move. Even creatives, like us, seem to “plan” their creativity ahead. Even many nomads or travellers among us actually plan their whole YEAR of travels and projects in advance. And within all of that, there are people who thrive on this movement: the productivity gurus that keep telling us to “plan more”. So we do that and we actually end up filling our schedule to the brim, as a result of a seemingly obsessive compulsive disorder.
Question: What happens if we don’t plan? What’s the worst case scenario? Will we lose sight of our goals? Will they never happen?
Maybe. But is that actually a bad thing? Well, not necessarily.
Don’t get me wrong – planning stuff is great. It helps you reach goals. It helps you find discipline. It makes you feel on top of everything. You can even get pretty high off of it. Heck, David and I also enjoy it! But what a strict plan and over-scheduling doesn’t help with, is obviously being spontaneous. And boy, spontaneity is definitely, definitely: underrated.
By bulking up our lives with goals and plans and everything, we remove the chance of changing our minds, or even coming up with new ideas. We remove the chance of… possibility.
Planning things to the brim basically BLOCKS out that chance of something special happening. Anchored in intuition, or even creativity – because creativity cannot be planned. It’s one wild thing and it shows up when you least expect it. What if a crazy, better idea comes along the way? Do you push it out because “no, I’ve planned something else?”. I don’t know about you, but this sounds like pure torture to me.
Setting a bit of time apart will allow not only spontaneous moments and ideas to happen, but it will also give us space to reflect on what we’re doing and why we are doing it, instead of constantly being on autopilot mode. When was the last time you took some time to think “wait a second, what the f*ck am I doing and why am I doing it?“. Such a simple question but so eye-opening. And it can in fact, lead you to better places than you were actually planning to be in.
We’re no experts on the topic, but David and I realized that the best version of us (and what our lives have to bring) comes out when we aim to find the sweet spot between structure & spontaneity. Here’s how we do it:
A LOOSE SCHEDULE
Scheduling some things, why not: it’s good to have some sort of framework or some sort of routine for the things you want to get done. Without that, well, some people would get up at 02:0o PM and perhaps spend the day eating cheetos.
Thankfully, we’re naturally quite committed and determined, so we find it easy not to do that. We have a list of things to do per day, and we have a daily schedule. BUT – we let that one be quite loose. We do have a schedule every day but we consciously do not fill it to the brim, always leaving some “buffer” space here and there. Not for eating cheetos (haha), but for allowing room for something spontaneous to happen. What if we have a new creative idea and want to experiment on it right away? What if we meet someone interesting and want to spend 3h with them, exchanging eye-opening views about life? What if we just want to go grab some fresh air in the forest, because the weather is so beautiful today?
A loose schedule means we can switch our plans at the last minute, while still being able to accomplish what we wanted that day, or that week. We all have responsibilities – but is does it all have to be a constant matter of life and death? Life without this sense of urgency is pure bliss and pure creative freedom.
LET LIFE DO IT’S THING
Similarly, we don’t plan every single thing that happens in our lives. Take a look at our travels for example. Well, to be honest, the whole “being nomadic” thing itself did happen quite organically (a year ago this was not our plan – AT ALL).
Now, since we are in fact moving around every few months, people often ask us what our travel plans are and although we know where we’ll be next month (phew), we don’t know where we’ll be in three. That’s so exciting, actually. It also means that if we decide to go somewhere on a whim, well, we can do that! This is exactly how we ended up going to Japan. A random opportunity popped up and we had the ability to take it, because we did not over-plan. And I believe that this is exactly what made it such a magical experience. While we were there, we really evolved and grew in every way. These are the times that you feel that life has it all figured out for you and no, you do not need to be a control freak 🙂
We also try not to commit to anyone or anything posing us deadlines in time, or commitments that expect us to be physically present somewhere too far out in the future, because we have no idea where we’ll be and we don’t want to be tied down to such a plan if our motivations change.
The only things that we do schedule in our calendars are our client projects we have with our design studio. Some times those projects are planned a few months ahead – but that’s ok because we can work on them from anywhere and we are passionate about them! Yet, even those follow the rule of “loose planning” and do not get any crazy-strict timelines because good creative ideas need buffer time too. Which brings me to my next point…
ROOM FOR SPONTANEOUS CREATING
What is creativity if you plan it? Meh, just “trying to make stuff happen” with an average quality, usually. This is relevant to all of our projects. Whether they are a design project for a client, a personal project, or the stuff we share here on our blog.
Let’s talk about blogging, for example. I talked about bloggers before, because we’re also part of that world. Aside from the design work we do for clients and ourselves, we also like to give some love to this little space here as it’s a great place to share our endeavours and thoughts. But, since our main priority is to be as creative as possible, we decided not to plan our entire content ahead. While “some” of our content is prepared in advance, we do leave room for spontaneous things. Actually, most of our posts are like that – because new ideas keep popping up in the heat of the moment. It’s certainly harder to deal with, but the reward of capturing something that is in our minds right now or that we have just experienced, is worth it and very powerful. This one here is a semi-spontaneous post, by the way – I wrote it just a day before it was published.
While we also have usually have some ideas of side-projects to pursue (e-courses, a new website, a new video, a new personal project), we try not to make them overwhelming. We know many entrepreneurial folks who would want to immediately grasp those “Eureka” moments, jump head first, tie them to a calendar and an unrealistic launch date – but we consciously do NOT do that. We find it’s important not to be so hardcore about it, because those ideas do need time to sink in. Why invest so much time in one go, when you haven’t even properly digested it? The solution: baby steps, fuelled by intuition. We work on them if it feels right, on a given day of the week. And while we progress we can see how we feel about them. Some feelings can change and that’s totally ok. We started a youtube channel on a whim and then shut it down a few weeks later (simply because we realized it was not our thing). I’m so proud we listened to our hearts and did not abide by an expected success schedule that some people have when they start such a project. It was a very simple and short part of our creative journey and it did not crush us emotionally because we just let it go. We did not further waste time or energy and just moved on to the next project.
Whatever you’re into: DO acknowledge new ideas. But DON’T force them to come together, trust your intuition – it’s important to trust yourself – trust that things (if they are meant to be), will come together.
Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. – John Lennon
Spontaneity is so important – it brings the opportunity of chance.
Although I am not the most spontaneous person in the world (I am a type A after all), I always, always try to remind myself of what amazing re-discovery experiences we’ve had by just letting it do its thing. Of what important place it should have in our lives. So many things would have simply not happened “if” we would have stuck to our original plans. If you feel anxious, or overwhelmed as I do sometimes, then I urge you to think about this. Whatever your lifestyle is. Have goals. Have plans. But always, always leave room for the unexpected 🙂