Planning is a funny thing; it excites some people and at the same time sends others into deep, dark ponderings like: 'I can't even get out of the chair to make a list of the proposed plan'. Well, neither could I. Spoilt rotten by my well meaning parents I had never made by bed until I got married. I did protest and say I wanted to do it, but to my house proud Mother that was an insult. Her home was her domain. Oh boy, I got married and moved from Auckland to Dunedin. I knew no one, I'd never cooked or cleaned, never done laundry and just to top it off, after being married only a month, I found out I was expecting a baby!
'That's nice', I hear you say. Well, I had that special kind of thing they call morning sickness. Except it lasted all day and night, not just the morning. Whoever invented the name morning sickness? Could it have been a member of the male species? I dragged myself around drowning in self pity, unable to find a solution. You see I never had a plan, of any kind, except to marry David and live happily ever after. I knew nothing about routine or discipline of time; I couldn't get from A to B. I could not plan a day let alone a week, a year or five years. The saying 'A place for everything and everything in its place' was not part of my thinking, and the place for everything was on top of everything else.
Discipline, what on earth was that? Could it be a bus you board to take you where you want to go? Here was my dilemma. If someone dropped by I'd have to clear laundry, newspapers and other junk off a chair for them to sit on. In fact, you could say my decor was 'early junk yard!' One day a lady from church came to visit me and as she was leaving, she made the casual remark: 'Dear, I live by the saying, 'don't put it down, put it away'. That started me thinking. You see, I was so mortified that I realised I had to change, have some kind of plan, anything that would enable me to do something about my situation ... the junk yard.
Thankfully, I had what seemed like an enormous mind boggling revelation. I'd make a list of things I needed to do, put a time limit on them and discipline myself to get them done. It sounds pathetic but it was manageable step. Starting at 8 am, I would do the dishes from breakfast, yes that was a novel idea, don't put them down, put them away. The junk yard was moving out of the kitchen. Then I'd get the laundry on at 8:30 am before making the bed at 9 am. Okay, it sounds tragic I know, but I'd never had a routine before. I'd never embraced disciplines. Eventually my list went from a piece of paper to a note book and I loved the feeling of crossing off my achievements. I was changing my behaviours and going from procrastination to organisation. Making promises to myself and keeping them. It felt good and as a result I was developing my own nobility.
Someone said: 'Begin with the end in mind'. For me that is the essence of planning, the reason for it and the inspiration to keep going when it's tough. Where do you want to be six months from now? How will you get there and what, in any area of your pursuits, is the end you want to reach? I kept my little notebook handy and pretty soon I even put the groceries away when I brought them home and that wasn't even on my list. My house went from early junkyard to general hospital. Clean, tidy, efficient.
There were chairs and a table you could use, and my bedroom was no longer one big dressing room with clothes over every surface. I could actually find that top I'd lost, and the other shoe (Whew!). I think one of the main things I learned was to take manageable steps to change my behaviours. They say it takes three months to form a new habit to where it is becomes a life style. Well, from the list to the notebook I then started automatically doing the job without thinking. It became routine. Just daily disciplines to get them out of the way as quickly as possible to free up my time for other exciting things I longed to do.
Did I have an end in mind? Yes, I did and it was to offer hospitality that I could be proud of. True, I could hardly cook but I learned. I decided not to go for the Cordon Bleu option straight off. What a coward! Instead I worked out 6 different meals I knew I could make and improve on and stay with them till my confidence built. It was again just taking a manageable step. Yes of course they included exotic names like 'pigs in a blanket' - the humble sausage baked in a casserole of batter - how awful! How unhealthy yet how easy. By now you might be thinking, 'When I think planning, I'm not talking saving lives, climbing Everest or starting an orphanage.' That is all well and good but the same basic principles apply. Begin with the end in mind, take manageable steps, do the next thing until it becomes routine and you're on the way.
If you have to change a behaviour that doesn't serve your plan then do it. To get to the goal, it's important to stop self defeating behaviours. In home management the golden rule for me is still 'don't put it down, put it away.' If I had continued down the track of 'my mother spoilt me rotten', I would still be waiting for her to fix my situation (or just blame her for my failures). There is a point when we have to take responsibility for our own destiny and move with a new plan that serves us and those we want to influence. Our past is past, we can let it teach us but we can't stay there wishing it was different. Find out where you want to get to and than act. Step by step, little by little, change what needs to be changed, get rid of baggage that does not serve the plan and set sail.
I constantly have a new end in mind. I'm a song writer and have just completed a new album. Throughout the process, I reached inside and out of those years of personal disciplines I taught myself to better my song lyrics. I looked for new ways to say old exploited phrases. The result of course will be in the hearing but I never want to stand still. New goals, new horizons, new destinies. It's a new year and it has the number seven in it. That number stands for completion and perfection. It doesn't get much more exciting than that.