I have a ritual every year by January 1st. To support the planning and prioritizing aspect of my executive functioning, I sit down with a piece of paper, some colored pencils, and my planner.
I dream big, drawing what I would like to happen over the next 12 months. I always find the possibilities of a new year exciting and invigorating. I also love mapping out my vacation dates in my fresh new Seeing My Time planner!
But this year…My brain freezes before I can pick up a pencil.
Plan? How can I plan? This crazy pandemic world jerks me around like I am on the end of a yo-yo.
Some days I confidently move forward with plans, feeling grounded in the new normal. But before I know it, I have accidentally listened to the news and I want to hide in my kitchen, listen only to classical music and never leave my house.
Now, if you think I’m being a bit over-emotional, the truth is that the real world keeps messing with my plans. I have made plane reservations for three trips in January and February. Six weeks in advance the airlines arbitrarily changed all of those flights. One trip now has a 5:12 AM departure (I would NEVER plan a departure time like that anymore), and another flight actually got moved to the NEXT day! Argh… So what’s a person to do?
I was recently talking about this planning dilemma with an older and wiser woman. She counseled me that – like it or not – the new normal is that old-fashioned predictability is gone. We’ve got to accept that, move on, and approach planning with a flexible brain.
She told me to always create a plan A and a fall-back plan B. Your preferred plan A might actually happen, so plan it so you can do it. While Plan A might get ditched, you are still ready with your plan B.
I found her advice very helpful and calming. If my trip to Greece next spring (which has moved three times already) doesn’t happen, I am not staying home and crying in my bed. I’ll be using that scheduled vacation time for a birding trip to southern Arizona. And, my plan C…head to Central Oregon where I can always rent a vacation home!
So my friends, as I always teach in my Seeing My Time program: Plan! Don’t be afraid to set up a backup plan for fun and take the steps to make it happen.
Here’s to creating some enjoyable adventures in 2022, regardless of whether or not they are your first choice. I will close with this quote: “Life is the graceful execution of Plan B.”
May you have a peaceful and healthy New Year.
Marydee Sklar is the president of Executive Functioning Success and the creator of the Seeing My Time Program®. She is an educator and author of three books on executive functions, as well as a trainer and speaker. Marydee has more than twenty-five years of experience working with students and adults with executive function challenges.