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8 Reasons You Should Stop Making Plans For Everything

8 Reasons You Should Stop Making Plans For Everything

Poet Robert Burns wrote, “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.” While plans can make some things easier, it’s not good to rely too heavily on them. It can set us up for disappointment if something goes wrong along the way. While it’s definitely good to plan for some things, such as retirement and college, others are best left unplanned. It might surprise you how easily you can get by without a plan at all.

1. You’ll worry too much.

Plans are made for ultimately one reason: to see it through to the end successfully. If you’re worrying constantly about making sure your plan goes smoothly and just how you want it to, you might want to ease back on your planning. With some things, it’s easier to just let things go along. That way, you can relax and enjoy the experience.

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2. You won’t see alternatives.

Often, plans are too rigid. They don’t allow for changes. Somewhere along the way, you might run into something that would work out better for you than what you had originally planned. Plans that are too rigid might keep you from making a better decision, simply because the alternatives aren’t a part of your original plan.

3. You might be disappointed with the outcome.

Your plans might get your hopes up too high. If you find yourself stressing out about what you’ll do if your plans don’t go as you want them to, you might be too disappointed in the event that they go a bit awry. Setting out on something without a plan gives you the freedom to simply look forward to the outcome, and you’ll rarely find yourself getting disappointed this way.

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4. You could get too controlling.

It can be nice to take the reigns, but doing so too often can lead to major stress down the road. Let someone else take over for a while. You’ll feel much better, and you’re certainly less likely to feel the pressure of being in charge. Even the most controlling people need a break every so often.

5. It’s possible your plans will get derailed.

Things happen. That’s just the way the world works. If you have too many plans going on at once, it’s entirely possible that they won’t work out. Staying flexible allows you to modify your plans as needed, as well as ensures that your expectations aren’t too high.

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6. You might get trapped.

Making too many plans could bind you. If your plans are set and something happens that necessitates a change, you might not be able to. Keeping things open allows you the luxury of moving things around if you need to. You never know what might come up, for good or for bad, so it’s always nice to have some wiggle room.

7. You’re more likely to feel isolated.

Plans could isolate you from your friends and family. Often, it’s not easy to keep others in your life if you’re too focused on seeing your plans through. Make sure you open up your life to others and their plans, as well. People are more willing to be around someone who doesn’t feel the need to be controlling all of the time, and simply letting others take the lead will show them that you trust them.

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8. You might have less fun.

Let’s say you’re going on vacation and have everything planned, from sunup to sundown. If you’re worrying about making sure you stay on schedule, you’re not going to be able to have fun in the process. It’s good to have some things planned, such as transportation and hotels, but leave some things open. Go where the day takes you.

Featured photo credit: Teresa Robinson via flickr.com

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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