A friend of mine, a college marketing professor, amazes me with his ability to conversationally lay out his year in a way that gives him a clear picture of his future, recapping all the things he will plan for and look forward to.
He’ll say, “In January I will attend a conference in Switzerland. In March I will go with my brother to visit my mum in India, and we will help her to sell some property. In May the next edition of my marketing textbook will be released, and I will travel to a few cities to meet with professors. When I go, I will take my daughter, who will be on break from college, to have some great father-daughter time and visit grad schools.”
The picture he paints and plans for often involves travel, but it also includes personal and family highlights. I think sharing his plans with his friends in this way helps him to process what’s important in his life.
I am a planner by nature, a card-carrying member of Life Planning Network, yet with this new year I’m thinking that I need a new approach to my own life planning.
Those who know me say I accomplish a lot, but I find myself wondering, at what expense?
Vacations and time off seem to elude me, walks on the beach don’t happen, and visits with friends a two-hour drive away can’t seem to fit into my busy weekend schedule.
Weekends pass during which I do little but housework and work from home. Even walks with my beloved dog sometimes don’t happen because there’s just too much to do. There is no time to “just be.”
Time on this side of 50 goes a lot faster than it did with the first 50 years. So if I don’t start planning now for the things that are important to me, I can see from past history they just won’t get done.
I don’t think I’m alone. Many people in their 50s and 60s are perpetually busy, if not with work, then with looking for work or devoting time to grandkids, caregiving or some other passion or cause. It is both generational and part of our life stage.
Am I willing to break out of my personal and generational routines?
It’s ironic that I am thinking about this now, when my husband and I are embarking on a home remodel. But come to think of it, there is no better time to plan some downtime than in the midst of the stress and turmoil.
Here are my New Year’s resolutions:
I will find ways in my week to embrace the healing power of touch. I recently offered a visit with my dog Rolo to a dear friend who will soon go through cancer treatment. I know petting fur is healing. So are dog kisses, human hand holding, massages and a good soak in the tub.
I will find ways to “just be.” It was pointed out to me recently that we have a gorgeous oak tree behind Senior Concerns. I plan to sit under the tree, listen to the birds and feel the sunshine on my face. I will find ways in the middle of the night to still my mind and not worry or wonder.
I will find ways to take a break each weekend. Maybe it will be a ride to the beach, sitting by the lake, an extra-long dog walk in a new part of town or just taking a nap.
My mantra will go from “Dancing as fast as I can” to “Stop and smell the roses.”
I will find time in my busy day that I know is there. It will be OK to take that time to accomplish nothing but take care of me.
I was telling my husband of my new plan for the coming year. He listened quietly and then asked, “Hon, if you’re going to do my program of taking care of yourself, then how are we going to get anything done around here?”
Yep, it’s a new kind of life planning for me, but I think it’s exactly what I need.