Planning on letting go of planning in the new year

By Katie Wolf

There are a certain type of people who live life with a laissez-faire attitude. These are the kind of people who don’t like (or need) to make plans. They’re able to live on a day-to-day basis, without worrying what comes next.

When asked how they want to spend their vacations, they say “Let’s play it by ear.” Next Saturday’s dinner date? They don’t stress about reservations; if the restaurant is crowded, there’s always another one. These people let the wind carry them where it may.

I’m not one of those people.

I am, self-admittedly, a compulsive planner. Almost to the point of obnoxious, or maybe definitely obnoxious if you talk to my friends and family.

There’s an old adage that sums up the philosophy of how I live my life: “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.” I can’t remember a day in my life that I didn’t try to plan or schedule.

Embarrassing fact: I even schedule my “relaxation” time. I plan on arriving anywhere I need to go 15-20 minutes early just in case something comes up. I plan for the expected, the unexpected and everything in between. I’ve been planning my future — a career in journalism — since I was in the fourth grade.

Most of my plans change on a regular basis, but as long as they’re set, I can sleep at night.

I don’t know why I am this way, or why I get so frustrated with those laissez-faire people around me who simply refuse to help ease my anxiety and just set a gosh darn plan.

I do know I can’t possibly be the only person in the world who is obsessed with knowing what I’m going to be doing every day for the rest of my life.

It’s 2010 and with the new year I decided to start making more plans. I’m not a resolution kind of person, but I was prepared to bust out my calendar and start penning important dates.

In the midst of my planning, and looking at the extremely hectic schedule I have in my last semester at Oakland University, and the world I have to dive into after graduation, I started to realize something: My planning ways are going to drive me insane.

As stressed as I get if there isn’t a plan, sometimes it’s the planning itself that makes me nauseous. And after taking stock of my life, I also realized that some of the best things that have happened to me have come from snap decisions, things that involved zero planning, or sometimes drastic changes to the original plans.

When I applied to The Oakland Post, I planned to be a reporter. Then someone suggested I also apply for managing editor. I laughed, because I knew what a huge difference in job descriptions there were between the two positions. I had heard of the level of stress that came with being an editor, and it wasn’t something I was sure I could handle. But I applied anyway, and I landed the job. A semester in, I can say it’s the best job I’ve ever had, and I’ve found my calling in journalism.

The day I turned 21, I ran into two male friends from high school who I hadn’t seen since graduation. Instead of just saying hello like I normally would have, I invited them to celebrate with me and my female friends (a night that was planned to be “ladies only”). Over the next year and a half, one of the men has become my closest friend, with whom I share holidays and vacations. The other man connected with one of the women that night, and they were married last Friday. My anti-planning worked for a lot of people that time.

I planned on remaining romantically unattached for my last semester at school, so I could focus on classes and The Post. Well, after spending Christmas with a new boyfriend and both of our families, I guess the single plan is what’s getting carried away with the wind. And I couldn’t be happier.

A friend and fellow editor also planned to stay single like I had, and she’s currently in a wonderful relationship (which stemmed from the Mouthing Off column they wrote last September). Maybe there’s something in the water here, or maybe it really is true that good things happen when you least expect them.

My new “plan” from now on is to stop stressing about my plans. I have tangible proof that my world will not collapse around me if I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing tomorrow at 3 p.m. I can still plan the big stuff, sure, but if those plans change? I’ll be OK.