We plan our days. We set alarms to wake us, then hit the snooze. We show up to the job, then punch the clock. We make lists, then cross things off. We plan the work, then work the plan. We block out times on the calendar, then make the appointments. We look at the time, then punch out at the job. We pick up the kids, then get them to practice. We make the dinner, then get to the homework. We set the alarm, then turn out the light.
Even our vacations are driven by plans and itineraries. We get to the airport at one time so we can make the plane by another. We go to the city to see the sights or visit the person or do the thing.
But are any of these things the things we remember? Are these the things that stick with us or, ultimately, have meaning?
Or, is it the surprises? Is it the things that are not a part of the plan?
The day when the alarm did not go off and you did not wake on time. Or the meeting was cancelled and you now have an unexpected hour fully in your control. The day the kid got a broken arm at practice. Or the night you stayed up way past when you should have, talking and laughing with your partner. A night so fun you forget to set your alarm…
And what stands out from that last vacation? Was it making the plane on time or the one you missed? Was it making good drive time to the destination or getting lost? Is it that visit to the monument or that dance that seemingly broke out of nowhere in the middle of the square? Or that amazing meal you had in the cafe the local told you about that is not listed in some book?
My point being that the things that stay with us most are the things that are not part of the plan. Therefore, perhaps, we should leave as much room as possible for surprise. Plan the work, but leave space for the unplanned.