I always thought I was not a planner.
Wait. That isn’t true. Back when I was a teenager, I was a planner. I would plan things to do with my friends, what we would do over the summer, that sort of thing.
I learned quickly that if I let myself plan, I would overplan. I am rather creative, so I would build up entire scenarios of how things would work out. Then I would be absolutely miserable when my plans did not work out the way I expected.
In my 20s, that trend of misery continued, but with greater frequency. It felt like any plans I made just fell apart. So instead of fighting it, I became someone who is not a planner.
For the past 15 years or so, I’ve absolutely refused to plan.
My road trips? I generally know when I need to be at my destination; everything about going from point A to point B is left up to whatever my mood is that day. “How can you drive across the country without a plan?” Easy. Give yourself a bit of a buffer so you can stop for longer stays when you fall in love with the charm of a place. Beyond that? Just go.
Life will all sort itself out.
The past two months have taught me that I am a planner after all. It is a reality that has hit me square in the chest and forced me to face it, as much as I hate to make plans.
I retired as a pro photographer, which was the equivalent it turns out as untying the anchor I had been tethered to for 8 years. A week or two before the Dad 2.0 Summit, I found myself in a state of panic. When Mike asked me what we wrong, I couldn’t verbalize it at first. Finally I asked him, “What am I?”
He looked confused. “You’re a writer. A coach. The Avenger of Sexiness.” To him, it was obvious.
My profound response? “Oh, good. Ok.”
It was at that moment I realized I need a plan. More than I ever wanted to admit. If someone asked me what I did, I needed an answer to give them. If someone asked me how I did it, I needed something to point them to. I needed a plan. I needed answers.
Because when I really look at what the issue is here? It is that I don’t like to feel like I’m not prepared. Which was exactly how I was feeling. Even though all of this is actually a natural progression of the work I’ve been doing for several years now, it all feels completely new at times, and I find myself feeling very lost.
So I’ve been making plan after plan. Finding my answers.
Every time I think, “Ok, I have a plan now, I’m all set!” I find something else comes up.
Yesterday it was the issue of using images with my blog posts. I honestly have no idea how many photographs I have from the past two years of road trips, but it could be 50,000 images. Lakes, mountains, forests, fields, oceans, deserts, beaches – I have photographs of them all. Beautiful, amazing photographs.
They might not literally fit what I’m talking about in my blog post, but they are incredible, and I want to share them. So I will. After hours of debate, I decided I simply must use them as the graphics for my blog posts here. My posts that I am planning to write (oh goodness, there is that planning thing again!) might all be about body image, self-confidence and taking care of yourself, but they are also about me and my story. My message. Travel? It is part of my story too.
Now that I’m planning things out, I realized I needed to reframe how I think about my blog post content too. Social Media and SEO have killed my blog. I spend a lot of time worrying about what I could write that would be interesting to my readers. That would come up high in the search engines. That would have all the right keywords, be optimized for social media, all those things that are so important.
Or maybe they are not that important at all? Maybe the really important thing is to actually just write?
It was then that I realized that I also need to break some rules. Rules that are arbitrary and that I had set up for myself. No one else was holding me to them.
So that is where we are at. I have a plan. A plan for what I want to share here over the months ahead, and a plan for letting go of the rules holding me down – the need to have exactly the perfect image for a post, and just the right keywords, and everything just so.
You have to choose what is important for you. For me, right now? It is the writing. I can worry about all those other technical things later if they end up really mattering to me. It is time to tear down the barriers of rules I had been setting up for myself about how things had to be done because “they” said it is the right way to do it. No. Not in this case.
None of it matters if I’m not writing. I believe in what I plan to share so much, I can’t let anything stop me.
Turns out I’m not just a planner, but a rule-breaker as well. When it comes to life? It will all work out. It always does. Now I just need to pay attention to what other arbitrary rules I’ve put in place that really, in the end, don’t matter if they are stopping me from doing what I’m passionate about!