I was talking with my friend C last week and she shared the idea of creating a “thoughtful plan.”
With the workshops that I have been planning, this idea of a thoughtful plan really resonated for me. It took time (and a couple of starts) for me to sort through what workshops to offer and when and how to tell folks about them.
I thought it was because I wanted to work out all the logistics so the singers who participated would have fulfilling and instructive experiences. (It may have also been the teensiest bit perfectionism and stuck, too.)
Whenever I’m feeling stuck, I go to my improvising experience.
Because I don’t experience stuck the same way when I am singing. It’s not that it never happens, it just doesn’t seem to last as long (or feel the same).
When I improvise, I am creating, but I am not “planning.” I am willing — and able — to release an idea that’s not working or head in a new direction if what is going on around me leads me there.
When I improvise, I plan (ha ha) on being flexible, adaptive and responsive. On interacting. Focusing on that keeps me open and creative.
When I start a new project, I rarely feel flexible, adaptive or responsive. (I’m working on this.)
(As I have shared,) starting can jam me up. I get focused on being efficient and making sure there are no unnecessary steps. (The irony that I can’ t actually know which steps are necessary is not totally lost on me.)
Still, I try to be thoughtful. I want to be efficient. I want to move from step to step, sequentially without any side trips or distractions.
In other words, I get in my head and I can get stuck there. I think (and think and think and think) and it can keep me from acting.
So, while very attractive, the idea of thoughtful planning is a bit of trap for me. It caters to the part of me that would rather keep perfecting an idea than undertake it.
Sure, it’s good and important to plan some things.
And spending time thinking through a plan to see if it can work more smoothly or efficiently or get better results is valuable.
The problem is that my mostly Type A self hears thoughtful plan and thinks “precision” or “perfection.” Thoughtful plans must be neat and orderly, definitely sequential and, most important, completed on time. A thoughtful plan should be efficient and save time.
Thoughtful plans do not contain learning steps or flights of fancy. And there are certainly no do-overs.
Of course, none of that is true.
A plan that is well thought out should allow time for thinking and research and – I hate to say it – mistakes.
A thoughtful plan should be thorough and adaptable, flexible and comprehensive.