Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 19/20: Plotters & Pansters

Some of us are planners, others not so much...Have you noticed? I'm not sure when I gave up on planning, but I suspect that with a little effort, I could trace it back to the first time my life fell apart. Some of you know the story: I'd worked hard to become a lawyer, only to discover that I hated the job. I'd cultivated an independent-girl-in-the-city persona, but that was a hard front to keep up in the face of increasing evidence that living in the city terrified me and I'd date practically any guy who kept me from having to be alone. I walked away from it all, which might seem like a brave thing to do...but it was really just because I couldn't imagine living the lie I'd created (inadvertently, but it was still a lie) even one more day.

And since then, my life has been a highway billboard for the slogan, "We make plans, God laughs."

But all around me, friends and family members plan out their lives with great success. They set goals, break them into smaller, doable pieces (just like the magazines say you should) and throw parties when they cross whatever finish line they'd been aiming for. It's inspiring.

It makes me wonder if the plotter/panster (I'm borrowing language from the writing world here, where authors will ask each other if they're "plotters" who know ahead of time what arc their book will take, or "pantsters" who fly by the seat of their pants when they write, waiting to see how the story unfolds) dichotomy isn't similar to the personality differences between "satisficers" (who are satisfied when needs are met and aren't all that picky about the details) and "maximizers" (who want to make sure they get the very best option available)? What if we're all wired in different ways, and much of our unhappiness in life comes from trying to function against our wiring?

It strikes me that this plotter/panster division has implications for prayer. As a panster, it's often difficult for me to pray specifically (and, let's be honest...with one or two notable exceptions, God's responses are almost never what I prayed for). But my planner friends describe lists, and specifics, and a real sense from God that He's not only hearing their prayers, He's helping them make the list. Makes me wonder if our prayers all fit into some larger puzzle somehow, that we can't see here on earth? (And just to be clear: I have no theological basis for this wondering...it's just a random thought wandering through my mind this morning).

Today's question: Are you a plotter or a panster? How does that work for you?

9 comments:

Sarakastic said...

I'm a plotter and it usually leads to me crashing and burning. I'm so much like Rory that way with pro/con lists but the rest of the world never falls in line with my plans

breezyallatsea said...

I'm a plotter. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Quite frustrating when it doesn't work!

larramiefg said...

I'm a plotter for important details, a pantser for living. Living as a pantser requires more hope and faith as it allows for more opportunities!

kim said...

Like Sarakastic, I tend to be a plotter and it turns to dust. God is like: will you to let go already!

vee said...

I'm both, but mostly a pantser. I often feel like I should just know how to be a better planner because I feel influenced by everyone who promotes the virtues of planning and executing a fulfilling life. I am a big dreamer and feel stuck at this stage. It can be sort of scary being a not-so-adept planner because I never know what is next or how i'm gonna get to where I wanna go.

Rachaelita said...

I think I'm a plotter-in-recovery.
I was desperately trying to plan out part of my summer and it dissolved. It has been a great lesson in learning how to let go, more. Hopefully I won't get so stressed out next time, knowing that my plans might not materialize if God doesn't give the go-ahead. Plotting seems to be one of those things I do, like "busywork", to keep me distracted while I am waiting on God, but can actually keep me from hearing his voice.

Gretchen said...

I am often a plotter for many things but am more of a panstster when it comes to my own life. I try to be a plotter but it all goes awry, so I'm learning to just go with it.

Holly said...

I think that I've been taught to be a planner, and have tried to live like one, but like some of the other commenters, it hasn't exactly been a blinding success story. I may take this question to God some more, but I wonder if I'm a pantser who just needs to learn to live like one. It's not an easy thing to learn, even if it is my core nature, somewhere buried. (Or perhaps I'm a plotter who just needs some pantsy balance.) Along similar lines, I've suspected for quite a while that I'm a Mary who's spent her life trying to be Martha, and it's a slow process learning to trust the Maryness!

KimberlyH said...

I'm definitely a plotter. The key for me is learning what I can plan and what I can't; and when to stay the course and when to be flexible to change. There are things that are reasonable for me to plan and things that are not. Even when I do plan, I've learned to have a lot more flexibility than I've had in the past. And there are still times when in hindsight I wish I had been more flexible.