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Episode 40: Perfectionistic Planning

Y’all, I am so excited for this episode of The Work Of Becoming podcast because today I want to talk to you about a concept that has fundamentally transformed my life and has fundamentally transformed the lives of so, so, so many of our clients, and that is compassionate planning.

So, let me tell you a story.

Several years ago, when I was in grad school, I would sit down at the beginning of every week, and I would plan my week. I would time block my schedule. What I would do is I would write down all the tasks that I wanted to get done, and I would create this schedule that had me getting up early. It didn’t have a lot of breaks between things. It had extremely short times for lunch or commuting, and I would essentially build myself a schedule that seemed perfect in the moment. It seemed like everything was gonna get done, but it wasn’t realistic at all.

I work with a lot of clients, and I’ve heard from a lot of you that you tend to lean into that sort of perfectionistic planning. As someone who’s very well versed in the science of planning, in the science of self-compassion, I want to let you know that there’s a reason that we have that tendency, and it’s because when you sit down and you are trying to make a plan, you’re probably a little bit stressed. You’re probably making the plan as a way to reduce the stress, and when you create a perfectionistic plan, what that does is it temporarily gives you affirmation and a feeling of certainty that the plan is gonna work and that everything is gonna get done.

So, when you time block all 100 tasks into your calendar, for a moment you get to feel like everything is gonna be okay. For a moment, you feel secure and calm and organized. But that high does not last, and in actuality, that is a false sense of security. It is a false sense of calm. Sure, it hits you well in the moment. You feel good in the moment, but in reality, what it does is it creates really, really, really bad feelings on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday next week because you can’t follow through on that plan or following through sucks the literal life force out of you because you’ve planned in a perfectionistic and insensitive way.

This month, in Change Academy, we are talking about how to plan your year. And so, in the workshop (which is actually later today) I am going to talk extensively about how to plan your year in a way that’s compassionate. And so, if you’ve sat down and you’ve made a new years resolution before or you’ve made a yearly plan before or even if you’ve made a weekly plan or a monthly plan, you’ve laid out any kind of plan, I would highly recommend that you jump in on today’s workshop or you have until the end of the month to join Change Academy, and then you automatically get access to this month’s workshop because when you start planning compassionately, when you start planning realistically, sure, you might not get that in-the-moment feeling of comfort, but you’re learning to tolerate the discomfort of: “Oh, all of my tasks might not fit in this week.” “Oh, I have less time than I thought because of life.” “Oh, I don’t really have as much time to finish that big project this quarter because my kids have this and that and the other thing.”

When you have that realism, you can create a compassionate plan that actually takes care of yourself. So, you are trading in-the-moment comfort, you are trading 10 or 15 seconds of feeling really certain and secure for a full week of feeling less guilty, less shameful, a full week of feeling aligned and capable of the things you laid out for yourself. I always tell people the purpose of the plan itself is not necessarily to follow the plan. It’s to give yourself a realistic mental picture of what’s actually going on. It is an informational process, not a process that is tied to you 100% following through.

So, if that’s you, if you’re a perfectionistic planner or if you feel like you have a problem with follow through, you probably also have a problem with compassionate planning. One of the number one reasons why people come into Alliance Coaching is because they want to learn to follow through, and most of the clients we have who successfully do feel like they can follow through much better, compassionate planning is like a cornerstone, it is a foundational skill that allows them to build that secondary skill of follow through.

So, I hope to see you in today’s workshop. I hope to see you in coaching. I would really encourage you to apply, but even if you don’t, I would really encourage you to think how can I be more compassionate in my planning? How can I make a plan that is so totally doable, so totally realistic? Because I promise you that is gonna cultivate an amazing relationship with your future self, and that is gonna make the behavior change that you’re looking for a whole lot easier.

I’ll see you in the next episode!

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Hi, I'm Karin

I’m a funfetti flavor super-fan, a loving dog mom, a PhD expert in mindset and behavior change… and I’m here to help make personal development and transformation a process that’s actually fun.

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