The Simplicity of Not Planning Ahead

With the Holidays approaching I have been thinking, as I do each year, about how to keep it simple. Usually this thinking leads to planning and list-making. But this year seems to be an exception—I have been inclined to do nothing and find myself wondering how long this feeling will last. It’s clear to me that at some point I’ll do something—I will decorate my home, get gifts for my children and plan meals. And I know I will be able to get it done—probably without great forethought. But I have decided to wait until I feel like doing something, until it feels natural and good to begin. Or perhaps this year I’ll wait until the calendar forces me into action!

When I look back on past holidays, I realize one of my favorites in recent years was a Thanksgiving/anniversary party for my in-laws. My husband and I were fully engaged with other projects leading up to the celebration so out of necessity, we decided we would wait until the day before to get ready. With the exception of ordering the turkey in advance we realized we could get everything done in two time chunks—the morning before Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Day itself. This decision freed us both to enjoy and focus on the other things we had going on in our lives until the day before the party. When the day came to focus on the Thanksgiving/anniversary party we were fully present. It was the best celebration we have experienced – from how we enjoyed getting ready to the food and the quality time with family and guests.

Here is the simplicity I found in not planning ahead :

Saves time – we condensed our preparation down to what was truly necessary. Too often when we plan in advance we spend more time than we need to. When we carve out just enough time we are forced to be more efficient.

Less waste – I didn’t have weeks of time to over-think (and invent) all the things I may need. We shopped the day before and naturally streamlined, which also saved money.

More present – because planning and preparation was scheduled in two chunks of time I was free to be in the moment in the weeks leading up to the party. When the day came to prepare, I was focused on what is essential.

Fosters improvisation – Planning in advance promotes the false idea that with our planning and shopping (finding the “perfect” food or decorations) we can control our occasion. Waiting until the time to actually prepare keeps the energy we bring to the process more spontaneous and improvisational.

Something new may happen – when we plan ahead we tend to go into autopilot and repeat whatever we have done in the past. But if we pause and wait—hang out in the uncertainty—chances are something new may happen.

More creative/authentic – if you find you don’t have something or a store runs out- –you will do without (often realizing that you didn’t really need it) or get creative by finding something else in your home that works just as well.

When we realized we were short a few table decorations for our Thanksgiving/Anniversary party, we let the boys takeover. In the past, my design sensibilities and perfectionism may have stopped me from giving the boys free rein. But thankfully, this time I was in the moment and joyfully preparing the the party or perhaps I would have missed out on a Lego guarded gingerbread house on the bar or a crystal and stone centerpiece – one of the great joys of the night!

If you feel you must plan, plan for what you want to feel – If there is a case for planning ahead, plan for what you want to feel on the day of your special occasion or holiday. When you put your desires “out there” clearly, and with intention, you will be a magnet for the situations/people/inspiration/ideas that will create those feelings. Decide what you want to feel and let the universe and your subconscious take care of the rest.

If you like this blog, you may also enjoy:

Simplify Your Holiday: Tips for a Peaceful Celebration

Check out our Simplify your Holiday series:
Simplify Your Holiday Meal

Simplify Your Holiday Traditions

Simplify Your Home

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