The Problem with “Your Plan”
By Rachael Leonie.
My day planner was an accountant’s dream and an epileptic’s nightmare: numbered hours corresponded with deadlines and lunchtimes, while loud, glaring highlighter burst out between every task, detailing any omission, exception, or special note that corresponded with said event. I noted emails I’d left unanswered, personal goals I’d always abandon, and errands I’d dread of running.
But I’d respond to thirteen other e-mails, and forget about that last one; I’d forget I was supposed to order the salad for lunch and go with my usual philly cheese steak sub (and cookie!); I’d spend so much time at my computer, that I wouldn’t have time to pick up toilet paper at the store. I wouldn’t check these items off my to-do list, and as I stared, defeated, at the little piece of paper screaming at me in neon colors and thrice-underlined notes, I’d come unraveled –strand by strand, until I felt trounced and worthless.
But then I left that corporate-style personal life I had chosen to lead. I stopped running my life like my to-do list was sergeant general, and I was its corresponding army. I abandoned the days of ruling and rebuking myself, and finally stopped restricting my happiness.
Because the problem with a “plan” is that I’ll get sick on the Wednesday I had planned to run errands, or I’ll receive an unexpected phone call at 4 p.m., and I can guarantee you I’ll eat something I wasn’t supposed to. And then I’ll feel guilty for not completing my personal deadline or the regulation I had set.
I’ve finally learned, with the help of a city full of well-aware individuals, to work off of my own clock, my second-by-second reactions. Through adaptation, I’ve realized my body and mind crave this type of leniency, and my schedule allows it, if I let it. I work –and work hard—within the time frame I allocate to a job, but I don’t stress if something didn’t turn out the way I intended. And I won’t slave over a task for extra hours in a day where I allocated sufficient time to said job.
Buenos Aires has taught me it’s all about balance: my job is important, as are my extra curricular commitments, but neither is my entire life. However, each of these factors –work, studying, hobbies, sports, wellness, etc.—contributes to identity capital, so I allocate an appropriate amount of time to each task.
The key is to not over-do or over-focus on one aspect of my life. To not be the successful, yet work-obsessed, businesswoman, asking everyone what they do, and attempting to garner if I make less or more than them. To not be an overly-health conscious hippie, critiquing everyone on his or her lack-of-hemp seed diet and ridiculously high intakes of Monsanto products. So, day-by-day and moment-by-moment I gauge how I am doing and proceed accordingly.
And if all else fails, and my body clock stops just as my energy level sinks, it’s always handy to have a scoop of dulce de leche nearby to pick me up. Just in case.
Rachael Leonie aka The Wanderita is a spunky twenty-something-year-old who found her way back to Buenos Aires after a series of misadventures through South America. She spends her free time talking porteño with taxi drivers and taste-testing choripán. Follow her as she bares her soul to Argentina at www.TheWanderita.com.