The very word spontaneous, which means to “come out of natural impulse or inclination, rather than from planning or in response to suggestions from others” or to result from “internal or natural processes with no apparent external influence” stresses me out. I’m a planner. I’ve got two calendars, which I review constantly throughout my day. I have to-do lists and dates scheduled weeks in advance. Part of this is because there is a lot I want to do and experience. There are people I want to meet. I know, the way things are rolling on the ever-increasing Type-A Planet, that if I don’t get on their schedule, it’s likely we won’t connect. So, I do plan the things that I really want to do.
But, I also think that over-planning is crap for creativity, and growth and flexibility and fun. You’ve got to have some time when you work without a safety net, when you hop out of bed and experience what the world offers without your manipulation.
On these flex days when you just roll with whatever comes, there is great potential for creativity and flow. There is a chance you’ll have a powerful life-changing experience or make a personal discovery that will lead to greater meaning. Plus, spontaneity allows room for play and that’s good for your relationships and your health. These are the big things we bypass by being too scheduled.
So, I’m not suggesting you toss the calendar, but I am suggesting, ironically that you plan to be a little more spontaneous.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Say yes, when you want to say no. Often, we say “no” to fun times and interesting experiences simply because they weren’t part of the original plan. When something interesting shows up, consider it a synchronous gift and say “yes” to the experience. You’ll feel proud of yourself and even a little excited. We feel better when we have new experiences and saying yes is a way to help it show up.
2. Plan time for spontaneity. Seems paradoxical, but this is how I do it sometimes. For example, on Monday, I’m spending the day with a friend. It’s the only time we both had open for a few weeks. But, instead of planning how we’ll spend the time, we simply agreed to meet in the morning and go with whatever we feel like. This feels so fun to me and freeing. I get to see her and I don’t have to coordinate, direct, plan. Just thinking about that feels fun.
Once-in-awhile just head out without a map or a plan and see what happens.
My husband and I try to do this on some Saturday mornings. When we have a weekend free, we’ll decide not to decide. We won’t talk about our plans until we get up and then it’s usually moment-by-moment as things arise. This is tough on the days our daughter has a soccer game or I have an appearance. But, we seize the other open moments in our life, just to see what comes.
3. Change plans. First, need to be clear: This is not my favorite suggestion – just sayin – because I do not like to change plans. I get geared up for whatever I’m planning to do and have a hard time adjusting (in the beginning) to a new idea. But, that’s why I’m working on this more and more and what better way to become easier with this than to practice. Often, I’ll go renegade and stray from my to-do list. If the mood strikes, I’ll mix up what I’m planning to cook for dinner, or meet a friend for a spontaneous playdate at the park. The key is to be aware of how you’re feeling and what you need to spark your day and then to go find it even if it’s different than what you planned. Often this kind of flexibility yields just enough inspiration or energy to help you be more productive when you do return to the schedule.
Today, try one of these things. Mix up your moments a little bit with something new, something unexpected, something spontaneous and tune into what arrives in your life. You’ll be uplifted by what you discover.