The Joy and Freedom You Will Gain by Living More Spontaneously
Allowing more Spontaneity in your Life
I have been known to comment when told that I was not a very spontaneous person that "I'm very spontaneous, I just like to have a little advance notice to plan!" If this sounds as silly and redundant to you as it does to me, then you understand where I'm going with this article.
I guess that somewhere along the line I felt the need to plan my life within an inch and that pretty much became the death knell to spontaneity. It makes sense, when one finds themselves feeling that every minute of the day is spoken for that we create a schedule to deal with it. And, some of us are really good at scheduling out our lives down to the last second! I am not knocking being prepared; in fact I applaud preparation!
But, sometimes in being so very organized and prepared we lose the ability to simply go with the flow and allow ourselves to be swept up in spontaneity.
If you, like me, have crafted your life to be very organized and find yourself with little time that is unscheduled but wish that you were better at saying yes to last minute invites, then this article is just what you need!
Too many times in my life have I said no to an invitation that I really wanted to say yes to for reasons that in hindsight were pretty lame. I recall once being deeply into my day and having decided it was going to be a "catch up" day online. I was living in a third world country and internet access was not a given; so finding a day with internet and time equaled committing to staying in and working online.
A friend called and invited me to go bowling. What fun! I really thought it sounded like fun too. But, I had locked myself into this rigid idea of the plan for the day and instead I said no. I recall even now, years later that my friend said something to the effect of "well, enjoy your computer time; if you ever decide to get out for some fun, let me know". At the time I let that wash over me, but all these years later I feel a bit silly and sorry that I chose to stay home on the computer instead of simply saying yes to this invitation.
I can tell you that it was about my having moved into the plan for my day so completely that I didn't allow myself any wiggle room to be spontaneous. Why on Earth was this so?!
Together let's look at some of the ways in which we defeat our own best purpose and lose out on opportunities for fun, growth or enrichment.
But, that's not what I Planned!
Let's look at some of the reasons we might get locked into this all or nothing way of thinking. That even though we have a lovely invitation, why might we instead say no and do something much less fun or fulfilling?
There are likely several reasons that this kind of behavior develops. As I mentioned before, sometimes our lives become so very busy that the only way we can feel on top of things is to schedule every part of our day. That may serve a purpose of keeping us on task, but it can also work so very well that we forget to let go of the "plan" and just go with the flow.
For me, as a single Mom in my twenties, and working full time as a Nurse there was very little time of my own that I hadn't planned out. I recall that I had a schedule to workout at my Health Club and I was loathe to ever let anything interfere with that.
One year a friend from High School was in town and wanted to get together. I had not seen her for probably a few years, but the time she asked me to meet coincided with my Gym schedule and so I declined. I know, embarrassing and really kind of pathetic to be so obsessed with working out and keeping on my schedule that I declined an invitation to see an old friend!
Perhaps you have stories like this of opportunities that you felt inclined to say no to instead of rocking the boat of your schedule.
But, for all of these stories where I felt sorry later for not saying yes to the spontaneous invitation, I do have a few where I said yes! And those stories are the ones that have taught me the value of being spontaneous!
For in those moments of spontaneity I was able to experience pure joy and a sense of freedom that is well worth pursuing!
Living in the Moment
I have several really fun memories of times that I went against my tendency to say no and stick to a plan and instead said yes!
One of the earliest memories was at age fifteen. It was a Saturday evening and I was sitting outside brushing my dog. A boy I knew dropped in and invited me to a party. I didn't feel pretty or prepared and almost said no. But some other voice inside was a bit stronger than the one that was feeling insecure about how I looked and I did say yes.
It ended up being a bit of an adventure, and a very memorable night. Even forty years or more later I remember that night quite fondly. It is just one example of how letting go of my plan and saying yes a spontaneous invitation proved to be a very positive experience.
Another experience happened in my early twenties. I was at home when my next door neighbor asked me to accompany her to a local bar for Rocky Mountain Oysters. I had all kinds of excuses why I couldn't go; I didn't have a babysitter; I hadn't washed my hair; I didn't have enough time to do my makeup....Well, my neighbor wasn't taking no for an answer, so together we found a sitter, I slapped on a bare smidge of makeup and off we went. Though at first I felt self conscious and not as glamorous as I would have liked to feel, I relaxed and found myself having fun. Eventually it turned into a truly fun evening and obviously very memorable.
The most recent experience that led me to write here today was just last week. I had planned my Monday to get my groceries bought and to then come home and to rehearse my power point presentation that I was giving the next day. On my way home from the store I met my daughter and granddaughter. My little granddaughter asked if she could visit me at my house. This was a first, as she is only three. I really wanted to say yes, as I adore her and wanted to encourage more of the same. But, my inner organizer was freaking out! I kept thinking "how can I rehearse, play with the kid and get everything done in time?!".
Ultimately, my love of my granddaughter trumped my plan and I agreed. What ensued was the sweetest time with her that I have yet to spend.
I was actually able to set up my projector in one room and get her set up in another room with TV and a snack. It turned out that I was able to do what I had planned, and also be spontaneous and enjoy my sweet granddaughter.
After she had gone home I reflected on how very liberating the experience had been for me! It simply felt wonderful to let go of my plan and instead say yes to this sweet person who loves me and just wanted to spend time with me.
I have never liked disappointing others so the bonus was in being able to please her and myself!
Perhaps you feel ready to step up and allow a bit more Spontaneity into your life?
Planning for Spontaneity
It's a bit of an oxymoron to plan to be spontaneous, but hey, why not?! If you aren't a very spontaneous person, then maybe a bit of planning is just what you need to take you there?
I guess one can't really plan to be spontaneous, but I am thinking it's more of an attitude and a mind set.
Also, you can plan for some times during each week that are a bit less structured so that if and when a spontaneous invitation comes along you may feel a bit more willing to step away from the plan and say yes!
What has helped me to be more spontaneous is partly to remember the times that I was and how well it worked for me! It is always good to store some positive memories to reflect and recall when you are challenged with the pull of an invite and the pull of your plans.
While being rigidly adherent to plans is not a bad thing in that it will keep you on track and help with being organized, it also might be keeping you from a lot of joy to be found in those spontaneous moments.
When invitations or opportunities come your way that conflict with a plan you have, you can take a moment to really sort through your options and avoid knee jerk reactions or responses. It can be very tempting to simply say No and move on with your plan.
Instead, reflect on when else you might be able to do what you had planned to do. Or, is there a way you can do what you planned and accept the spontaneous invitation? Sometimes there are creative solutions just waiting to be found.
For instance, when I waffled about going out with my friend because I had no sitter and felt less fresh and prepared than I wished, she stepped up and helped me find a sitter and allowed me a few minutes to primp so that I would go.
Or, last week I figured out that I could stay on target with my rehearsal and enjoy my granddaughter. It didn't have to be an either/or proposition and it was a win/win!
Probably the best thing you can do is take a moment and really consider the offer. Too often when we are in our rigid, planned way of thinking we don't even really consider the offer and just say no. But, if we really think about it, there are often some great solutions just waiting to be discovered!
If I can learn to be spontaneous, then I know that you can too! You don't even have to stop organizing your life to the nth degree; just make sure to think outside the box a bit before ruling out the spontaneous invitation.
Some of the most joyful and freeing experiences of my life have been those moments that were completely spontaneous.
Why not create some for yourself?!