working the plan

Photo by Andrés Alagón on Unsplash

unpolished thoughts 2/23/2019

Do you know how to relax even when you have an obligation to fulfill?

What if it’s not an external obligation, but something you chose, a personal practice to help you become more of the person you wish to be?

Can you find the space between pushing as hard as possible to achieve success and simply giving up and declaring yourself a failure?

That might sound excessively dramatic, but many of us live that way.

There’s another reason why it can be difficult to calibrate our energies when we are on a journey to improve ourselves.

How do we even know if this plan will take us where we want to go?

When we begin, we simply don’t know.

But we can develop a better sense of direction over time, and learn how to correct our course if we really pay attention.

In my Feldenkrais training, we often talk about a four-step procedure:

Make a plan, work the plan, reflect on the results, make a new plan.

This means that our plan is never finalized. It’s just our best understanding up to this point about what course of action serves us best.

Operating from a working theory means you are not stuck in the mud of inertia, nor are you carried along by pure momentum. You don’t have to be terrorized by the idea that success or failure in this moment is a verdict on everything.

When we make new plans, they often feel unnatural.

This is how it’s going to be from now on?!”

No, it isn’t – but as strange as it might feel, this is the plan for now. This is what you will do – at least long enough to have a sense of what the new recipe tastes like.

When you cook something for the first time, you might well leave the pot on the stove too long, or add too many spices. It doesn’t mean you throw out the recipe. It means you might need to cook it a few times before you know what you can really do with it.

What looks like failure now might still become a success if you are willing to give it the time for a true test.

Do you afford yourself this kind of patience?

Working by trial and error can be an effective when you allow the necessary time for hunches to become full-blown conclusions – both about what works well and what doesn’t.

I’ve often written about the idea of living life experimentally, what kinds of variables can be manipulated to produce new outcomes, how we can reframe the way we look at things in order to see what was previously obscured, and how it helps when we aren’t so set on doing things the way we’ve always done them.

But alongside the procedures of experimentalism, we also need the kind of mental and emotional fortitude where we are willing to live a certain amount of time in the unknown.

Yet we don’t have to jump out of windows in the dark, holding our breath, and bracing ourselves.

We can control how much of the unpredictable we want to play with at any given time. We can decide when to return back to home base to gather together what we’ve learned.

We can rest easily in the moment, experiencing the ups and downs of our current plan, knowing that we can pause, reflect, and make a new plan whenever we like.


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