Should Life Be Planned Or Spontaneous?

I’ve been a planner from birth. As far as I can remember, I always liked thinking about the future — what I’d like to do, what I would be when I grow up and how I would get there. Well…the how I would get there part didn’t really kick in until high school. Now that I’m an adult, I plan out just about everything. I plan my goals for decades from now and years from now.

I plan trips months ahead. I plan what I will do tomorrow from morning until night and I even plan my morning commute before I leave the door — will I be getting regular coffee or iced? Oatmeal or yogurt parfait? I think ahead, always. I find that to be one of my best qualities and one that I personally cherish because if it weren’t for my planning skills, I wouldn’t be living the life that I am now. Planning fits my personality and my lifestyle — it’s the way I like to live.

One of my closest friends, on the contrary, is anything but a planner — a non-planner. He sets general dates for trips — but never actually follows through on them, but instead ends up changing them once time draws near. He doesn’t plan on what he is doing next week, this weekend and he doesn’t plan tomorrow. He has a set work schedule, but everything else goes the way the wind blows it.

He doesn’t worry about how he will get to where he needs to go; he figures it out once he hops on a train — any train. He doesn’t think about where he should get coffee — he’ll stop by somewhere on the way. What are his plans for tonight? No one knows. He is a man with few known final destinations and no knowledge of the route that will take him there.

But, he does get done what he needs to get done. It’s not that he is a slacker or is unreliable. He will always meet up when he says he will meet up, just don’t expect him to be on time. This is the way that he likes to live. Wherever life takes him that’s where he’s headed — and it works for him. He and I have been friends for years and always had somewhat opposing ways of living.

I always used to think that leaving so much to chance is silly, but now I understand that it’s not silly, it’s just different. Both planning and allowing things to play out themselves have pros — just as they both have cons. Which one you prefer is really up to you; one is bound to fit your personality better, more naturally.

Planning ahead allows you to have more control. Of course, things do happen and things change without any prior confirmation. Nevertheless, when you plan, you are able to figure out what alterations need to be made in order for you not to miss your next appointment. Your day becomes a machine with each different task as an individual gear or lever that allows it to function.

If one of the gears breaks, you can quickly swap it and not lose too much time. Planning is — unarguably — more efficient. For those that are workaholics or have a tendency of staying super active, you need to plan or you will not find enough time in the day to get all the things done that you need to get done. However great planning is (I’m a little biased), it does not have the one advantage that not planning has.

Not planning and going with the flow of things allows you to feel more alive. It places you more into reality and into the world outside of you; it gets you out of your head. Those who plan do so because they have a lot going on in their daily lives. The more you have going on, the more you think about all the things you have going on and the more ignorant you are of what is going on outside of your head.

Non-planners have less craziness going on in their lives and for this reason are able to spend more time reflecting on their environment and less time reflecting on their own thoughts. Another perk that not planning brings is adventure. Spontaneity is a norm for those that don’t plan. Not planning can bring unexpected people into your life and great memories.

However, it could also bring a lot of bad memories. Getting lost and missing out, having boring nights because you couldn’t find anything to do when you decided to go out last second. Being thought of as somewhat unreliable… Knowing that you can’t always be held to your word… The trick is to do a little of both — planning and not planning. Personally, I plan a timeslot when I don’t plan. That’s right — I plan not to plan. Don’t judge me; it works.