5 Tips for Un-Planning Your Life
It’s time to take a time out!
-Mary Beth Sammons
Feeling exhausted from a busy several months, I recently decided to cancel out-of-town holiday weekend plans at the last minute and revel in solitary – by choice and design. Here I was on a Thursday night with three days of no plans, no carpools, no parties, no swim/bike/run training schedule, and no kids (my three left earlier with backpacks for a weekend in another state with their father’s family.)
In a life overflowing with commitments, I couldn’t remember ever not having a schedule, a to-do checklist…ever, never, ever. So, as much as I was excited about discovering life beyond my schedule, I almost freaked out with the anxiety of not having one – for about a second! Then I dove headfirst into the adage of “all work and no play…,” immersing myself in three days of what experts call “non-instrumental activities” – reading for pleasure, riding my bike leisurely through a forest preserve and spontaneously inviting my parents to dinner at a favorite restaurant without the pomp and circumstance of my cooking, planning, cleaning, arguing with the kids to be present.
And for everything I didn’t plan, the weekend turned out to be one filled with some great surprises. Accidentally bumping into a friend (and his cute friend) and receiving an unexpected invitation to a party with a new group of people, and even reading an entire book.
As the kids walked in Sunday night with backpacks filled with soggy, sandy clothes, asking: “What did you do all weekend, Mom?” I smiled and said, “Just relaxed.” I secretly applauded the inner explorer in me who purposely disconnected, inspiring a whole new world of possibility and potential. I’m planning (okay, un-planning) the same for Labor Day.
If you’re looking for some simple ways to un-plan and add spontaneity into your life, consider these tips from the July/August issue of Body + Soul magazine:
1. Pencil it in: If you’re too nervous about not making any plans, pencil in some simple things that can be canceled if something better comes along (like a good book).
2. Tweak a habit: Trying small new things like visiting a new coffee shop gives you the nerve to risk bigger endeavors later. (And you may just bump into someone new and exciting!)
3. Forget your to-do list: Who cares that your living room needs dusting? It will still be there on Monday.
4. Say YES to spontaneity: Packed schedules leave little room for an impromptu dinner invite or trek to the beach. We often say no out of habit, but saying yes to new things opens a world of possibilities.
5. Try winging it: Experiment with doing something adventurous, something that challenges and pleases you, like a mini-excursion to the botanical garden or a trip to the city.