A friend of mine shared the expression, “Plan to dive and dive to plan.” This was the motto when in his younger years he was a salvage diver. The idea is that you plan carefully how, where and when you are diving as well as what you are to retrieve, etc. Get all things ready according to that plan. Then, when you are ready to dive, do not deviate from that plan. Stick to it. If so, all who are diving with you know the score, what is the expectation and most likely the outcomes will be favorable. If there is a problem, it can be dealt with in a systematic way since all the other bases are covered.
Sounds easy? Right?
I find that I can be all about the plan but then things happen and I have to accommodate, rearrange and adapt. For the longest time I found that extremely frustrating. However, I have come to realize that by planning/scheduling things, I am in a better position to handle the new accommodations and rearrangements. It allows me to have a little bit of control when things are seemingly out of control. Planning allows me the space to make choices and the capacity to think for myself.
On vacation our son played for us a podcast about personal agency. In essence, the speaker offers some suggestions on how to handle stressors in our lives and become the personal agent for ourselves. (Using the idea of someone who comes alongside and gives advice and direction for someone’s professional life, e.g. sports agent or literary agent) None of the suggestions are groundbreaking but are still noteworthy: surround yourself with positive people; stop multi-tasking; practice healthy behaviors of proper exercise, diet, sleep; manage your emotions; become a life-long learner. The goal is to keep yourself open to making good decisions and being clear minded. (Click here to hear the podcast.) I find that with good planning I can be open and clear-minded for whatever comes my way.
I think too of this past week and the remembrance and revisit of the Apollo moon landing. One of the reasons it was successful was that it was carefully planned and executed. There were some tense minutes when it appeared that there was a computer glitch. Fortunately there were some computer engineers who had prepped for something like that. A couple of weeks before the mission the flight director, Gene Kranz asked that they be prepared for every conceivable computer alarm that might register. They had run every combination of problems and its solutions. So, when there was an issue, they were prepared and (relatively) calm.
What I liked about the the podcast and about my friend’s motto is that, while none of us really has any control over our lives or the lives of others, we still can do what we can to make the best of any given situation.
We may never have to plan a moon landing, but we can plan for what we know or think might be possible. I think that is being wise. Of course, we can be so tied to a plan that we miss the opportunities that mishaps can bring. Yet, I think when we feel comfortable and confident in a plan we can be open to those opportunities.
We all know that glitches will happen. We know that life is not a controlled experiment. Yet, we can be as best prepared so that when things do go awry, we can handle in the best possible way. Maybe even having enough emotional, physical and mental margin to help someone else with their glitches. Isn’t that the true reason for planning- having space to help others because I have given myself that space?
What about you? Are you a planner? Down to the latest details? And all possible combinations of situations? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants person? Whatever happens, happens? How does either of those situations work for you?