esther m palmer

expecting twists and turns

starting with the perfect plan

When I get excited about an idea for a new project or objective, I make a plan that is full of hope and idealism. I tackle something new with the same confidence in my ability to follow through as if it were old hat, counting on expending only the time and energy it would take to do something solidly in my wheelhouse.

You might think about your daily responsibilities (at home or work or elsewhere): probably there are tasks that you can get done satisfactorily even if you're tired, unfocused, or just not feeling it.

Those are the kinds of tasks that are easy to put in a plan. You know how long they take, you know what resources you need, you know your mood or energy or motivation isn't a critical factor in getting them done.

But when you're doing something new or imposing a change on your patterns, there will almost surely be a lot of surprises, emotion, and learning to contend with. Even if it's in a field in which you have experience, establishing a new skill, knowledge, or habit takes extra time, effort, and creative energy. You're building something new in yourself; it's not going to go according to the first plan.

there won't be just one plan

These days when I plan out a new project or schedule, I start out with the ideal. And then I double the time allotted. This is to make space primarily for *anticipated* realities of the process: days when I am too tired to be productive, days when I'm distracted and don't get enough accomplished, something taking twice as long to learn, or wanting to go back to the drawing board with a particular question or idea. These are all things that almost *always* happen during a new project.

Planning for these is my least favorite part, even though I've been doing it for years. I like responding to changes in a plan, but planning for them is frustrating because you can't know when or where or how these anticipated twists and turns are going to show up. It is a bit like going step by step into the unknown... pretending like you are in control.

So, when embarking on a new project or objective, like, say, exploring your breathing and building a practice of focused breathing, it might be worth sitting with your hopes and expectations not only for an outcome, but also for the process.

finding what pulls you in

In every big project I've ever done, there's been a period during which I just lose interest. I get bored with my own ideas and question the validity of what I'm doing. And I've learned that this lull is a phase like any other. It's always been worth sticking with it through the days or weeks of stalled progress to take stock and look deeper into the original motivation and where things are actually at, usually through reflection or research (rather than actions steps on the plan, because at this point, it's not the right plan anymore!).

I am motivated by interest and joy, rather than, say, accomplishment or reward, and so staying the course is about continuously exploring what's pulling me in.

With breathing work, for example, I am drawn in by the ways it feels. The experience of feeling my body change in the moment because of something I'm doing. Other ways one might be motivated could be by the way you feel after doing a breathing practice or by believing that you're doing something good for your health and longevity. You might find yourself motivated by one or several factors.

It's helpful, when bringing a new idea into action, to reflect on and come back to whatever it is that pulls you in and makes you want to learn, to build a new skill or knowledge, or to shape a new way of being, because your sure-fire plan will most certainly shift and change with the journey.

Here's to letting it be an enjoyable, if complex, process!
Be moving, be true, be you,

photo credit roma kaiuk, found on unsplash

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