We’ve all heard the phrase, “The best laid plans of mice and men” and have most likely said it. The origin, by the way, comes from a poem titled, To A Mouse by Robert Burns. Even out of the context of the poem, the way we use it is exactly how it was meant. We can plan and plan and plan again, but in the end, something can turn those plans on their ear and cause a major (or minor) change in your intentions. Another phrase we all have heard is from an old Yiddish proverb, “Man makes plans and God laughs.” Again, when plans are made, they can change on a dime.
However, it doesn’t stop us from planning. In fact, I bet most of you reading this have plans for the rest of your day, perhaps even have every day lined up with plans. But they can change. For instance, Mondays I do certain things which set up the rest of my week. This past Monday was a threat of rain in the evening, so I had to change my entire schedule which has, in a way, put me a bit behind in all I need to get accomplished. Below are four tips to help you with these plans, even when they get upheaved.
Make “To Do” Lists
To do lists are a must. Perhaps you remember, as I do, when there was, in my estimation, an overemphasis on To Do Lists. Begin your day by making your list of what need accomplished down to the most minute. Then look back over that list and begin to prioritize as to importance. No, wait. Prioritize based on time needed for each task. No, wait. I think you are getting the picture. By the time you did all of this, most of your morning was spent planning out what you were going to do, and nothing was being accomplished. The problem set in when there was a change to the list. Either a task was more important than you ranked it, a project took longer than you had planned for, or someone added to your list and made it the priority. This can be seen, often when we are cooking and have our schedule set of what needs done and when.
Having said the above, I’m a huge proponent of lists. Time lists so I know when I have turn-ins at a competition or just the event schedule, so I don’t miss anything. However, weekly I make a huge “To Do” list of every major task that needs accomplished. For instance, this article, is on there and will be scratched off once completed. Although there are deadlines or certain time when items need to be completed, there is built into the list freedom of flexibility.
Be Flexible
One of the most frustrating concepts of the lists in those self-help books were their lack of freedom to be flexible. If something pooped up unexpectedly, the authors would lament and tell you to evaluate its importance in relation to the other items to be accomplished. Although, there is some merit to this, it’s called “chasing the squirrel.” Like a dog outside doing what dogs do, then next thing you know they’re off chasing a squirrel then a lizard (in Florida) then something else. If you’re not careful then you can become distracted and then your whole plan is thrown off.
When you are flexible, to a degree, then your plan just may be delayed or this new event that has popped up will enhance your plan in a greater way. My mind keeps going back to cooking in a contest when, on a cold morning, your cooker isn’t getting to the temperature you need, but because of your flexibility you are able to adjust. This freedom of flexibility is a permission you must give yourself when things arise, because they always do.
Stay Open to Better
“Change is the only constant in life” is a phrase we all have heard, said and lived. It’s inevitable to have change, to have plans disrupted, to have “to do” lists added to unexpectedly. How we react to these can make all the difference. Before I delve into this, let me assure you, these changes aren’t always a bed of roses, sometimes, they do in fact frustrate, but in a bigger picture, they open your eyes to something better.
I’m sure you’re a lot like me when you have tasks which need accomplished. You are so laser focused any change can throw you off track. However, on some of those occasions when this has happened to me, it made everything better. When you’re open to change being better, then when it happens, you are more willing to embrace it. It could be as simple as giving you a sense of accomplishment, to filling in a missing piece to a project, to a brand-new recipe you stumble across. So, set your plans, but stay open to those plans changing to reveal something better.
Re-group and Re-try
Covid-19 has almost made us experts on this. From events canceling, to weddings being postponed and more. I have had two contests I’ve planned postpone because of this and I’ve canceled more plane tickets than I have ever canceled in my life. Major BBQ contests have canceled for this year only with the promise of bigger and better in 2021. One of my favorite events of the year, the NBBQA National Conference, even had to cancel. But hopefully we’ll see something better, bigger and more fun next year.
When your plans change, when your day is turned on its ear, take a step back to re-group. In reality, it’s all you can do, unless you just give up and no one wants that. When you face a change of plans don’t get all mopey and give up. Instead, step back grab a coffee, go for a walk, mow the lawn, etc. and spend that time re-grouping, collecting your thoughts then get back at it. This is so evident when you’re at a cooking competition and when the results are delivered, you find out they aren’t exactly what you wanted. Do you sell your cookers and quit? No, you go home and examine your cook then you get ready for the next one.
Our best laid plans may change from time to time, but how we deal with them will make all the difference.