• David Strittmatter

Late? A plan does not work out? Why I won't stress myself any more

I am this kind of person who is the total opposite of a procrastinator. The earlier I can begin with something, the better. I love being on time and hate being late. I love planning months - or even years - in advance and hate having no structure in my daily life. I love waking up early and hate sleeping more than necessary. 


Sounds ridiculous, right? 


Yet, I am a very spontaneous person as well. For instance, I like it when someone spontaneously invites me to a party. Even if I have a full schedule the next day, I will go with them. The same goes for other parts of my life. When I was in high school, I always dreamed of working for a specific company. Luckily, there was a program that allowed me to study and simultaneously work for the company. So I applied for it, got into the interview and succeeded. After they offered me the position, though I changed my mind in the very last second. Why? Because I watched a fictional series, did some research and set a new long-term goal which I have been pursuing since then. 


This mixture of being, on the one hand, pathetically structured and organized and, on the other hand, very open to immediate changes allows me to cope with stressful situations confidently. 


And when a plan is going to fail?


Yet, I still highly dislike when my plan doesn't work out or I have to change my course of action involuntarily. For example, I planned to go to a nice restaurant with my friends in Mexico on December, 31st. As we did not know that almost all Mexican restaurants require a reservation, we did not make it into a restaurant at first. It felt really bad and stressed me. I tried my best to stay positive, but eventually, this feeling was potent. 


In the last few week(s) with my friends, I got the chance to learn how to cope better with these situations. My friends are used to being very spontaneous and they always seem late. Yet, it somehow always works out for them. In the case of our dinner on the 31st, we kept going, knowing that we will eventually find a good place for our meal. And yes, we made it. We wandered around, but with one goal. On one street, we saw a restaurant. The owner was standing in front of it. It was crowded and very busy. He saw us and waved his hands. We told him about our issue. He understood our problem and told us to come in. The end of the story: We were served veeeery good Mexican food, enjoyed great service and gave a generous tip since the restaurant was almost half the price compared to the other ones.


During my trip with those friends, I accumulated plenty of such stories. It's crazy how it always worked out. Yet, I realized that the "procrastination for the win-strategy" is only worth it when you are able to stay positive minded all the time. Otherwise, you are going to stress yourself too much. 


Losing my mind


I was not used to so much procrastination at first. Mentally, I went crazy. My mind always reminded me to make a reservation for this and that, to organize this early and have a plan for that. While giving it a try and trusting the power of procrastination, I don't want to freak out when we were late or had no plan. At first, it was not that easy but I really got used to it after a few days. After realizing that it actually almost always worked out, I received a boost of confidence and stayed mentally calm. 


So, I learned how to live as a procrastinator. It does not bother me to be late, have not made a reservation yet or not having a plan. I just accept the situation as it is and perceive it as normal. 


I know it is going to work out and I cannot turn back time. It is more about being mentally present than being mentally in one's own head. 


Nevertheless, my way to go keeps as it was before those experiences. Being a procrastinator means that you save a lot of planning and work ahead. On the other hand, though, you also sacrifice a lot of chances. Preparation and planning can be harnessed to find the ideal outcome for specific situations. Without planning and preparing, you will most likely only be able to achieve a mediocre solution. Your outcome depends on luck and slips more out of your control. 


I want to be the boss of my own life and control it. Procrastination means giving away power. Discipline, planning, and preparation in advance is freedom. 


Yet, I am 100% convinced that the ideal way is a mixture of both. Procrastinators must learn to engage more in preparation and planning more, and anti-procrastinators must understand that planning and preparation are not everything. If you get stuck in your head and worry while you are not in time or your plan has been thwarted, you will lose a lot of quality of life.


I will no longer stress myself - if I am late or if my plan does not work - for this very reason.

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