The Different Levels of Planning

“No matter how many plans you make or how much in control you are, life is always winging it.” ~ Carroll Bryant

Photo by Chris F on

As in life, the photo above is full of differences but also similarities — fractals. The shapes are similar, the geometric lines, even many of the colors repeat. However, if you examine it closely, there are no absolute duplicates. If you imagined this photo in 3-dimensions as one of those games where there are evenly spaced openings at the bottom which would allow the components to shift and drop, changing the composition or layout of the photo, the photo would not stay the same. There would be movement and a constant change. If you were to rotate the photo, and allow the components to shift, the results would be spectacularly different. (If that makes any sense. Use your spatial reasoning here.)

Life is the same way — never set in stone, constantly changing, shifting, moving. The pattern of our days is dependent on relationships, events, schedules, weather, illness and a myriad of other low-key elements we don’t even realize.

There are three different levels of planning:

  • Loose generalities – school calendars, projected vacations, menu ideas, event planning (big in emergency management)
  • Specific plans – grocery lists, errands, travel routes, if-then planning (if this occurs, then we’ll do that)
  • Mental preparation – meetings, legal proceedings, medical procedures.

Loose generalities are just that — loose plans on a projected schedule. These can be altered by weather or events. School snow days are expected and factored in. In emergency management, emergency events such as flooding, hurricanes, tornadoes or power outtages are projected. We make a menu with 14 dinner ideas which leads to a specific grocery list.

Specific plans are the actual boots on the ground that makes the loose generalities happen. Teachers create lesson plans for specific school days. A detailed grocery list to meet the needs of the planned dinner menu. Travel routes for vacations. Emergency management fine tunes the plans for projected events with the who, what, where and how of response.

Mental preparation is the mindset. Case in point – I taught a class last week that I have taught many times. It has a flow that we follow with accompanying PowerPoint slides. Shortly before the students arrived, there was an unexpected change in the plan, in the class flow. The mission was successful, even with the changes but it took some finagling and quick problem-solving to meet the demands. Preparing for a meeting, reviewing statements for legal proceedings – this is mental preparation. Variables will affect the actual events, but preparation helps set the stage for the outcome. Lamaze childbirth classes are an excellent example of mental preparation for dealing with discomfort and pain.

Relaxation is a key to being mentally prepared. I purchased a plant yesterday to add to our collection and have been grounding myself with fingers in the dirt, as well as potting two shoots from an existing plant. Earth, air, water — a good base for finding center. This evening I will spend time on the yoga mat, stretching and breathing.

Last year, I wrote a post here on being in-tune with my body and noticing subtle changes. Tomorrow I will undergo a total knee replacement surgery. While I have had this procedure previously, every surgery is different. New surgeon, new hospital, new staff, new expectations. Today is just a quiet day at home. My focus is on being mentally prepared, talking is a distraction. Chores that need to be done prior to leaving in the morning are being completed. The loose plan is surgery, the specific is the procedure, and the mental preparation is the visualization of the successful outcome and rehab.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s