the pros and cons of planning

planning. whether we sing it's praises or ignore it completely, we all have a complex relationship with planning. sometimes, mapping out every particular moment, step, plan, dream, action, or word in our life is necessary, depending on the overall situation. but when it comes to creativity and art, i find planning to be a dangerous threat to the process of developing new things.

from a personal perspective, i've never been much of a planner. my family and friends would easily describe me as spontaneous and "go with the flow". but lately, i've been pushing myself to become more organized and orderly as i find it helps me with time management and balancing all that life throws my way. this is great and i am seeing positive benefits from it, however it has slowly creeped into my creative cycle in a way that i think is unhealthy. i'm writing this today to share with you my thoughts on the pros and cons of planning.


1. planning is great for goal setting/accomplishing

you know that feeling when you finally get to cross something off your to-do list that has been there for weeks on weeks on weeks? yeah, that's the beauty of planning! you set out to accomplish certain tasks and when you complete them, you have an overwhelming sense of joy and purpose. those moments are special and we should never take them for granted.

2. planning helps your relationships

it means so much when a friend prioritizes spending time with me by physically planning something out on a particular day at a specific time. it makes me feel special that they are reserving that time to get to know me better and live a few minutes of their precious time on this earth with me. let's think about it from a collaboration standpoint as well. picture your favorite film of all time and think about the process it took to create that film. do you think the actors just showed up on set whenever they wanted? did the costume designer just make all the clothing without knowing the time period, character descriptions, or timeline of production? did the screenwriters just put words on a page hoping they would all make sense? not at all! things were planned and it turned out to be essential in keeping everyone on track. to be honest, i'm still learning how to implement this into my own routine. i'm inspired by the people in my life that reach out on a consistent basis and build that bond of friendship/camaraderie by being intentional with planning.

3. planning is brave

in this day and age, it actually takes courage to plan. we currently live in a culture where we are obsessed with new things and don't commit easily. if you make plans and stick to them no matter what, you start to train your mind to chase after the things you care about and give 110% effort and attention. it sounds like such a refreshing and radical concept, but in reality, it's just the simple idea of sticking to your word. 



1. excessive planning is a symptom of unhealthy perfectionism

i find myself in this perpetual situation where friends ask me, "what have you been up to?" or "what have you created recently?" and i feel like i have zero answers. the truth is, i've been planning a lot of things or thinking about certain projects but have not actually worked on anything at all. has this ever happened to you? it feels gross! because you know that you have the capability to create really cool things but since you've been critiquing, reassembling, and holding out for perfection on all of your ideas, you are left with nothing to show. never neglect the side of you that wants the final product or outcome to be great, but certainly don't let it stall you in taking the first step.

2. planning fuels future you, not present you

planning can make us so excited about life but also very anxious since it's thinking about our lives in a future tense. we all need to take a moment (or multiple moments) in our day to truly sit back and evaluate where we are in life. a moment of not dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, but simply living in the present. something i've also learned over the years to be helpful is to approach these moments with gratitude. taking a quick second to just breathe and say, "yep...this is where i'm at and i'm thankful to still be alive" will help keep you grounded and in tune with what's going on here and now.

3. planning is the enemy of spontaneity

we all have that one friend that has to have EVERYTHING go as planned or else they have a miserable time. i never want to be that friend. if i ever get to a place of being so calculated and routined that i can't just let go and have fun, please call me out on it, because that's no way to live. sometimes the best pieces of art or greatest memories are created when things go off course a little bit, so embrace change! life throws curveballs constantly and it's our job to make them part of the game. 


well, there you have it: my two cents on the idea of planning. all in all, i think planning can be a helpful tool in organizing thoughts, ideas, and adventures. just don't let it squash your wild creativity ;)







David Elm