Plan your 2021

I know that you’re getting everyone’s end of the year musings, and I will not be that different. I guess that, as with every ending, we seek to understand what happened, hoping to cherish the good and to avoid repeating the bad.

In my case, trying not to repeat BAD planning. Don’t you hate when you plan, and then everything goes awry, and you find yourself with only half of your plan fulfilled? Yes, that’s my 2020, my 2019, my 2018, and all my years all the way back to 1987.

So, 2020. It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it?

I had all my plans ready to roll out and then LIFE happened. All my new year’s resolutions and goals, all the hope and excitement of what was to come went puff. 

Everything was gone, and we were trapped between four walls, mourning loved ones, our own lives, and what didn’t happen.

The pandemic was (and still is) something that has hit me hard, and I’m still reeling from all the losses and pain, both close and far away. My chest aches for the family, friends and other people I can’t meet in person for who knows how long and from not having a clear cut solution of how to help those around me.

I’m a fixer. 

Give me a problem, and I won’t stop until I fix it, but this situation, so beyond my human capacities to fix on my own, is a wound that keeps on chaffing and re-opening.

However, in between too many zoom calls and recording classes, I did find that the forced slowing down was good to reflect about all the anxiety and stress that I have in my life. This quote from V. E. Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is the perfect representation of what I feel:

“[…] on the rare occasion he’s managed to get up before dawn, it was a thrill: to watch the day begin, to feel, at least for a little while, like he was ahead instead of behind. But then a night would go long, and a day would start late, and now he feels like there’s no time at all. Like he is always late for something.”

Always late for something.

There, that is what I keep feeling, that hamster-in-a-wheel angst pinning down my chest no matter what I do.

I make plans for what I need to do for the next part of my life and in the beginning, everything sounds and goes great. I’m making progress and feel like all is right in the world, and then life happens, all my plans get derailed, and I’m left floundering.

And when it wasn’t the pandemic, it was that new deadline from work, that house repair I couldn’t postpone or that all-consuming need to make things perfect because I’m afraid of what others might think if I show that I’m human.

How dare I be human, right?

One reason I’ve realized that I feel behind is that I make my plans as if I was the only breathing being in the world, living in a protected dome where no one or nothing will interrupt me while I’m in there.

And when life happens, and the scheduling goes awry, then of course I’m going to feel like I’m running behind. Because I am. The schedule said one thing, and I’m still nowhere near close to fulfilling it.

Part of the beauty of life is that it happens to you, and pretending that life won’t interrupt you only makes those plans crumble faster. So, having finally realized what I did wrong, I’ve devised a new system for myself (because, of course, I have to fix this situation):

Step 1: Let myself plan as normal, as if life won’t exist.

Step 2: Wait an entire week, open the document, and either slash the amount of work towards each goal in half (or duplicate/triplicate the time I thought it would take me).

Step 3: Repeat Step 2 as many times as needed.

Sounds like such a simple planning tool, right? And yet, I find it really hard. I want to do so many things in such little time!

But I’m using this newly developed technique to set myself up for 2021, which, let’s be honest, is gearing up to be another tough year. So why not be more forgiving of ourselves, expect less, and be happily surprised if we do more than we had hoped?

That’s why I’ve pushed all my book releases back so I can be realistic and make sure I deliver the best quality reader experiences I can create for you. 

How about you? What’s your planning tool? What did you learn this year?

I wish you a happy holiday season.

Thank you for sharing your year with me.

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Published by Vanesa L. Perillo

Finding the balance between fear and courage* *Inspired by Cara E. Yar Khan

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