My closest friends and family know, that if they knock on my door unannounced, they may well be met with The Look; the one that reminds them pretty darn quickly, that spontaneity is not for me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with people but I’m a planner. If I’ve committed to a dinner party, my mind will immediately turn to the menu. If you suggest a weekend away (with plenty of notice, obvs) I will first consult the yearly planner and then decide if it fits with my prior commitments.
Planning helps me to feel in control and on top of things. I’ve always quite liked this side of myself, it results in efficiency and people know where they stand.
What Happens When Things Don’t Quite Go to Plan?
I’m not talking about turning up on my doorstep ‘on the off chance’ (jokes aside, I could probably just about cope with that one), I’m talking about the phone call that says your child is hurt or in danger, the medical news that no one wants to hear, a knock at the door that brings shocking news nothing could prepare you for.
I imagine that every one of us has experienced a heart-stopping moment at some point in our lives. Over the past few years I’ve had numerous, so many in fact that I can no longer recall them all (probably my mind’s very clever way of protecting itself).
Not knowing what’s going to happen next can be completely debilitating for someone who naturally likes to plan. Not being able to put any dates in the diary goes against every fibre in my being and don’t even get me started on having to cancel on people last minute!
Nodding along? For us planners, throwing something unexpected into the mix causes all kinds of angst.
When Living One Day at a Time Doesn’t Come Naturally
In this day and age, living in the moment seems to be everyone’s ultimate goal. On paper it makes total sense but it’s very hard for a natural planner to simply transform a way of thinking that is so deeply engrained. Despite reading the articles and downloading the Calm app, I just couldn’t keep it up.
Until life dictated otherwise.
I never realised how far away from living in the moment I was, until I arrived here quite by accident. I’ll admit that it’s been an uncomfortable journey but I’ve slowly got used to it and there are so many benefits to living one day at a time…
5 Ways that Living in the Moment Has Changed My Life:
1. I am less stressed
With no plans in the diary, the constant nagging feeling that plans might need to change, just isn’t there. When you’re in a difficult season, no one needs extra stress, so not making plans has been helpful.
2. Every moment has become precious
I’ve found myself breathing deeply and taking a mental photograph of a moment simply because I know that it might not last. I want to drink in every last ounce of it.
3. Spontaneity is actually quite liberating
Unpredictable circumstances means that sometimes you just don’t know what you will feel like doing. I’ve learnt to ‘wait and see’ which results in much less disappointment and allows room for spontaneity. I might not be able to plan but that doesn’t mean life needs to stop altogether.
4. Other people’s opinions matter less
Living one day at a time can be frustrating for other people (especially the planners!) but I’ve learnt to let their expectations go and just do what’s right for me.
5. Living a ‘full life’ does not mean having a full diary
There really is so much value in slowing down and I can confirm that FOMO has finally been kicked to the curb.
Despite being a christian for 40 years, it only dawned on me recently that living one day at a time is a biblical principle. Most of us are familiar with the line ‘Give us today our daily bread‘ from the Lord’s prayer, but have we ever stopped to really think about what it means? It’s about asking God at the beginning of every day to provide us with exactly what we need for that 24 hours; the next day we will need to ask afresh.
In Lamentations, the bible says ‘His mercies are new every morning‘ and in Ephesians we are advised ‘not to let the sun go down on our anger‘. Why? Because none of us really know what the next day will bring.
It’s funny how life works sometimes isn’t it? We learn our greatest, most life-transforming lessons when we are down to the wire.
Are you a natural planner or do you tend to live one day at a time?
Michelle Twin Mum4 years ago
I’m a natural planner too but God has thought me over the last 6 years to let go and go with the flow. I’ve found all the same benefits you have. Mich X
Suzanne W4 years ago AUTHOR
I knew it would take something pretty big to make me do it. It really doesn’t come naturally at all! It’s actually had huge benefits. Xx
Lorraine4 years ago
I’m not spontaneous at all, but I don’t like to have a full diary. We’ve never believed in packing a week with activities or things to do, just a calm day by day approach is good. Although I need massive advance warning of a holiday!
Love this piece Suzanne, it was actually very calming to read. Hope all is well x
Suzanne W4 years ago AUTHOR
That’s really good to hear Lorraine, thank you for taking the time to read. We are all different aren’t we? Stopping to ‘smell the roses’ really doesn’t come naturally to me but I’ve learnt how to and the benefits are huge.
Plutonium Sox4 years ago
I’m sorry that you’ve come to this through difficult times. Glad it’s helping you though. I’m generally very spontaneous, I get a bit stressed when I have too much booked into my diary and definitely feel the benefits you describe when I live day to day a bit more.
natalie4 years ago
I am very much a planner. I struggle with people who text to say ‘are you free this afternoon for a playdate?’ I like to plan my weeks and that doesn’t mean being constantly busy but I like to know what I am doing each day. I do think with having three kids planning is needed sometimes. However come the weekend I take a step away from the diary and enjoy the freedom. Great post lovely x
Gail4 years ago
I’m sort of half way in between being a planner and being spontaneous in that I like to plan out my day/week, but do get a bit stressed by plans that have to be made weeks or months in advance and might curb a bit of spontaneity! That probably makes no sense at all, but I get what you mean totally at the start – I usually have my day very much mentally mapped out – and find it hard if anything comes along to knock that off its course. I’m trying to learn to be a bit more flexible and after several weeks of non stop ‘programmed’ events I’m now more than ready for a few weeks with nothing in the diary. I’m glad you’re feeling the benefits of living day to day a bit more. Wise thoughts as usual, Suzanne. xx
Nipa4 years ago
I’m a planner by nature but have found that motherhood has turned all my natural tendencies upside down i.e. I used to be a night owl until my kids started waking me up at 5 am. I used to set career goals until I realized that they’d need me longer than I expected! Glad to hear that you are enjoying (accepting?) living one day at a time. I still tend to think ahead and get a little frustrated when I have to switch gears from what I have planned. I guess I’m working on one day at a time, one day at a time! xo Nipa | fashionipa
Sarah MumofThree World4 years ago
Your life has been such a roller coaster over the past couple of years and I am in awe with the way you’ve coped with it all. But it’s good to hear that something positive has come out of it. I’m a planner too and always need to know exactly where I’m going and when. I like to pack my bag the night before, know where I’m parking and exactly what route I’m taking. Any less planning than that and I won’t sleep! I envy people who can live one day at a time.
BLEKE4 years ago
RSV: “Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”
NIV: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Diwakar Wankhede4 years ago
Hello Suzanne. I am a Pastor from Mumbai, India. I am glad to stop by your profile on the blogger and the blog post. I am also blessed and feel privielged and honoured to get connected with you as well as know you and about your interest. It was so encouraging to go through your blog post on “Learning to leave one day at a time” I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog post .I love getting connected with the people of God aorund the globe to be encouraged, strengthened and praying for one another. I have been in the Pastoral ministry for last 39 yrs in this great city of Mumbai a city with a great contrast where richest of rich nd the poorest of poor live. We reach out to the poorest of poor with the love of Christ to bring healing to the brokenhearted, We also encourage young and the aduts from the west to come to Mumbai to work with us during their vacation time. We would love to have youung teen aged daughters to come to MUMBAI wtih their friends to work with us during their vacation time. I am sure they will have a life changing experience. Looking forward to hear from you very soon. God’s richest blessings on you, your family and friends. My email id is : dhwankhede(at)gmail(dot)com and my name is Diwakar