It’s not a straitjacket!

Blue book on a pink background; book's title is "My Secret Plan to Rule the World"Are you a planner? Do you enjoy routine?

Or do you want more flexibility?

I freely admit to being a planner with routines that make me happy. And I also freely admit that I am not happy when my routines are suddenly disrupted, or when things aren’t planned and I don’t know what to expect.

On the other end of the spectrum is the person – as in one of my clients – who dreams of more flexibility in a business and life where she seems to always be rushing to get from one thing to the next.

But here’s the thing: a plan isn’t a straitjacket. And routine isn’t anti-flexibility.

In fact, as I said to my client, planning and routine can actually create greater flexibility.

Wait, what?

Yes, it’s true. And there are a whole host of reasons.

  • When there’s some structure (a.k.a. a plan!), you’re not scrambling to make last-minute decisions and choices.
  • You’re also not having to make multiple last-minute decisions and choices when it turns out that the preferred option isn’t available because things were too last-minute.
  • There’s no need to apologize to anyone because you’ve left things overly open-ended.
  • You’re not spending precious time trying to figure out what to do … at the last minute … and then ending up frittering time away because there was no plan.
  • And most flexible of all: you can schedule open time and plan for flexibility.

Yes, I did write that: plan for flexibility.

If, in the name of flexibility, you leave everything open, you’ll end up feeling rushed a lot of the time. I mean, hello, you’re always planning at the last minute (rushed) instead of in advance (relaxed).

I’ll admit that I’m a bit too far on the gotta have a plan end of the spectrum. I’m working on being more spontaneous.

But for a career, spontaneity isn’t ideal. The start-up entrepreneurial world is full of businesses that collapsed because the founders didn’t plan well, but instead dashed off in too many directions at once. And there are plenty of corporate careers that just muddle along without direction, less successful and less meaningful than they could have been.

Plans aren’t straitjackets. You can always change direction if something doesn’t seem to be working. In fact, there’s even a corporate-speak buzzword for it: pivoting!

And as my client realized, when you’re hyper-focused on being as flexible as possible, you’re likely to feel rushed and frustrated. And as she said to me, “Wow. I think most of the biggest challenges in my life and career have come from not planning!”

Something to think about, hmm?