Before a holiday I will spend time printing maps, looking at potential places to visit, checking ticket prices. I’ll make notes and lists. I’ll fill the guide with post-it notes and bookmarks. I like to plan.
I also used to bury my husband with questions about his expectations, ideas and preferences. And nine out of ten times he gently reminded me that first we need to get there. And that it will be easier to pick and decide on the spot. He likes to go with the flow.
In the beginning of our relationship this vast difference in our attitudes would sometimes cause friction. But now, few years down the line, I have realised that we have found middle ground. Not a compromise, but a combination of the best of both worlds.
I embraced a degree of spontaneity, which surprisingly allowed me to create better plans. Here’s how:
Options, not plans
Firstly, I no longer focus on planing things in sequence. Instead I make a list of possibilities. Options.
For example, when planning a holiday I use my research to create a list of places we can visit. This comes with a set of useful notes: why it’s potentially worth our time; how much time is required; any costs (like entry tickets).
Once we arrive at our destination I find my husband much more responsive when it comes to plan making. Each day we look through our options around dinner time and decide what we want to do for the next 24-48h.
Tools to deal with problems
Another big change has happened in my attitude and mindset. In the past my plans would be a lot more detailed. This gave me the feeling of “having things under control”. Of course, many times life would prove how little control I truly have. A delayed flight, break in the weather, illness… and plans crumbled.
Nowadays, I focus on gathering tools that help me to react faster and come up with stress-free solutions. Continuing the holiday trip context, this would include having contact numbers on hand and packing light and smart.
Decisions made alone
Lastly, when we met I refused to make our plans alone. Partially because I did not want to alienate or offend my husband. But mostly because I did not want to be blamed if something went wrong.
I grew out of it, mostly. I make decisions and go with them. Instead of trying to guess what my husband wants or trying to convince him to participate in the decision making I simply make sure he knows I will be making decisions that will affect us both.
When he wants to be part of the planning he shares his expectations and concerns on the spot or asks for me to put it on hold until he has time.
Most importantly this partial independence gives me freedom to plan and to be spontaneous.
This is still hard sometimes. Especially if a plan or decision has to be made in new territory (You know, like picking new tiles.). But learning to go with the flow keeps my plan-making joyful. And that’s what our life is supposed to be about.
I am curious where else this fusion of spontaneity and planning will take us next.
Are you a Free-spirit or a Planner?
How does that influence your decisions?