On Planning Less: How to Let Go & Enjoy the Ride

“Don’t seek, don’t search, don’t ask, don’t knock, don’t demand – relax. If you relax, it comes. If you relax, it is there. If you relax, you start vibrating with it.” ~Osho

As I drove home today, I embarked on a familiar exercise: planning out, in ridiculous detail, the next week, month, and year of my life.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that planning is bad. In my world, a complete lack of planning would be anarchy. And anarchy equals anxiety. So I try to avoid it—both the anarchy and the anxiety.

But, historically speaking, I plan to a fault. You could say I live the classic cart-before-the-horse existence. In fact, in my world, the cart comes before the horse has even been born. Or conceived.

I think of a neat product to create, then spend (read: waste) days mentally planning which boutique in NYC would be best to approach first, before I’ve even figured out if I can afford the supplies (or safely use them).

I find myself drawn in by late-night Zumba infomercials and spend the next several hours envisioning myself completing the workouts daily for six months, finally emerging from underneath the burden of the “workout so fun it’s not even like working out” perfectly toned, ready to ride my surf board (the one I don’t yet own) on the shores of Maui, Cameron Diaz-style.

Did I mention that I don’t like cardio? You’d glean this if you saw the thirty-two Zumba-like DVDs that already grace the mantel of my family room. Unopened.

Almost every Saturday, I wake up and declare my intention to stay in pajamas all day, to lie around and simply be lazy. And then by 11:07AM I’m bored to pieces and excitedly headed to Barnes & Noble (while remembering my vow not to get out of PJs).

So today, as I drove home while unconsciously plotting how I’d like to spend every hour of every day of the next week, month, and year, a song called “Going Whichever Way the Wind Blows” by Pete Droge came on the radio. The lyrics, which repeat over and over at points, advise:

It will get easier.

Let it go.

Just enjoy the ride.

Going whichever way the wind blows.

I don’t believe it was happenstance that the song came on in that moment.

It suddenly occurred to me that in the constant planning we’re not being true to ourselves, our real selves. We’re only true to the self we assume we’ll be in four hours, or six days, or eight months.

And you know what they say about assuming.

What I’d do well to remember, what so many of us would do well to remember, is that if I’d just check in with myself in each moment as to what I want to do, what project I want to start, what I want to be wearing—whether PJs or clothing appropriate to enter Old Navy, which aren’t all that different, frankly—and focus on the first step of that desire, I might make life easier on myself. And more fully and purely enjoy the ride.

The universe wants us to get on its roller coaster, not our own. But it can’t make us get on it. It can only continue to present itself to us at the loading dock. We must choose to get on. To trust that, no matter what happens through the twists and turns that follow, we’ll disembark when the ride is over more alive for having taken it.

So my newest vow to my spirit is to choose the Roller Coaster Less Ridden. To go where the wind blows.

Of course I’ll continue to put things on the calendar (like doctor’s appointments and mammograms and parent/teacher conferences and other things one can’t terribly effectively decide to do on a second’s notice).

But otherwise, I’ll simply stretch my finger out and see which way the wind is blowing.

Let it go.

And just enjoy the ride.

Photo by Krystal Kraft

About Elizabeth Lyons

Elizabeth Lyons is a bestselling author and inspirational humorist. Her latest book is You Cannot Be Serious: and 32 Other Rules that Sustain a (Mostly) Balanced Mom (May 2010). She'd love to connect with you via her website, www.ElizabethLyons.com, on Twitter @elizabethlyons, or on the Elizabeth Lyons Author Facebook page.

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