Once upon a time there were three bears: an “over-planer” bear, an “under-planner” bear, and a “well-balanced” bear.
The Over-Planner planned out every single nuance of his life. He was rigid and uptight because everything had to go just right all the time, and when plans didn’t work out he pitched a big old grouchy stressed-out fit. There was little room in his life for spontaneity and he therefore missed out on a lot of opportunities. His family and friends labeled him difficult and controlling, and sometimes felt bullied by his insistence they always follow his choices or plans. Though he achieved most of his goals and got very far in his career and personal life, he was never satisfied and lost a lot of sleep as he was always planning so many steps ahead which left him missing out on many beautiful moments occurring in the NOW.
Conversely, the Under Planner lived by seat of her furry pants. She refused to be tied down to any plans, preferring to go with the flow or mood and live life always in the NOW. While she was a fun and creative bear to hang around or work with, she ran chronically late and often annoyingly non-committal, resulting in a long tail of unfinished and underachieved dreams and goals dragging around behind her. Perceiving her as “flaky,” her friends and family to never place too much trust or reliance upon her.
Lastly we meet the “well-balanced” bear. Bear in mind (pun intended) this cub is rarely born this way, but evolves through emotional maturity and life’s trials and lessons, to find balance between a structured life full of back-to-back plans and a frolicking lifestyle of blowing with the wind. They can get their responsibilities handled in a timely fashion, have time left for their needs and wants, and still have room for reacting to life’s curve balls without breaking too much of a sweat.
Having worked hard to become a well-balanced bear in my life, I love the quote that I stole from someone somewhere: “I adore spontaneity as long as it’s carefully planned.” In other words, while I do live a pretty structured daily life, I not only leave room for sudden left turns (whether for fun or a crises), but I have time allotted in my life for “nothing.” That’s time when I can spontaneously choose something random to do – I can do absolutely nothing – and sometimes that’s the best of all!
So my little bear-readers, which are you? More importantly, which one do you want to be? Just some spontaneous food for thought today. Cheers!
From an early age my mother instilled in me a solid work ethic, that being late was a sign of disrespect, and the importance of your word and honoring a commitment. I have never lost these ideals and am now teaching them to my daughter. I am sadly aware, however, that many parents from the generations in between my youth and now seemed to have slacked off on these traits.
When I became a personal trainer at the ripe age of 42 (20 years older than the average first time trainer) the Fitness Manager at the gym lamented daily about how he wished he had 10 more like me. While the other beginners stood around talking on their phones when they had no clients, I walked the floor, re-racking weights, helping people with their workouts, passing around free samples of our protein bars, etc. I was always on time, never kept a client waiting, and had their workout planned out in advance. Surprisingly I was the anomaly.
When I was 21 I committed to photographing a co-workers wedding, happy to have a paying gig. Then it turned out that her wedding was taking place over an hour away from where I lived, that I would know no one else, and couldn’t bring a date. I really didn’t want to do it. I thought about what excuse I could make. But my mother’s teachings would not let me off the hook. I had made the commitment – given my word. I sucked it up, drove the 80+ miles by myself, focused politely on my task as photographer, and left four hours later knowing I had done the right thing.
I find these days that many people do not share these apparently antiquated social ethics. They just weren’t raised with them. Kids call their relatives by their first names, not Aunt or Uncle, etc. I’ve had four play dates for my daughter here at the house this summer, not one of the parents ever reciprocated. I contact my clients the night before their training sessions with a courtesy reminder, yet many clients continue to give last minute cancellations or simply not show up. Friends email me with suggestions of getting together, I reply with multiple dates, and then weeks go by and the dates are missed.
My ultimate pet peeve is tardiness. It simply isn’t in my DNA to be late – and chronic tardiness by friends and clients irritates the heck out of me. There’s no reason for it, especially with all of technology on our side – alarms on smart phones, reminders set with Siri, etc. But alas, I know that time management is not a priority to everyone.
Once again I find myself on a soapbox today, spurned on, no doubt, by having watched Ken Burn’s amazing 14 hour documentary on The Roosevelts. If you want to teach your children about good social ethics, FDR and Eleanor were great examples. Not perfect people, but certainly raised with an ingrained sense of honor, commitment, and respect.
People used to say “my word is my bond.” It’s a simple statement that says so much about the reliability of a person. I ask you – how good is your word?