Guess what?! There really is such a thing as the fear of planning! You know that feeling — you want to fill out the next week in your planner but you’re gripped with panic from not knowing what to put on your to-do list. You feel the apprehension of putting something on a wrong day and risking it won’t get done. Then what?!
Teleophobia, also spelled “Telophobia,” is the unreasonable and irrational fear of making definite plans and may also extend to the fear of religious rituals, such as weddings, funerals, and Sunday services. It is seemingly related to a fear of losing control and is similar to the fear of confinement or of making commitments. The person feels restricted or tied down by other people’s agendas.
Oh my, do I know what this fear feels like! I’ve always been hesitant to move forward in my plans — I guess it’s my “hyper-responsible” tendency always wanting to do the “right” thing! But by committing to a year of planning, I’m actually overcoming my fear and finding it’s getting easier to go with the flow and just get things done!
My Start Of The Year — It Didn’t Go Off With A Bang!
We’re finally got Christmas “put away” in our house with January winding down! Yup…we took our time! ;) But time and circumstances (and still enjoying the twinkling lights!) slowed us w-a-y down as our family and extended family got the virus RSV. Not a good thing to get sick when all I wanted is do was run into the New Year!
But you know what? The longer I live, the more I understand the secret to being content — knowing I’m not in control. So I’m okay with this slowdown and plans not going my way. I’m learning to get the best out of each situation (it’s taken decades!). The mantras all around us say, “Be your own boss.” and “No matter what, you can make anything happen.” Yet, you and I know we aren’t really in control of it all. God is. We do have limitations. (Sorry to burst your bubble.)
Don’t Be Discouraged!
Every day we have way more control than I’m sure we actually like! But not total control.
- We have control over what we add to our to-do list and onto our schedules.
- We have control over how we handle the multitude of responsibilities in our sphere of influence.
- And we have control over how we handle what doesn’t go our way.
So press on…
- Be encouraged to get on with it.
- Get excited to begin the year running.
- Don’t be afraid to have lots of goals.
- Just don’t expect it to go exactly the way you expected when you wrote in those little boxes in your planner! Really, it’s o-k-a-y!
Picture how discouraging it is when you have a great plan underway but then you get sick — or your cat gets hurt and that means a trip to the vet — or you get a flat tire — or the dishwasher backs up just as you were planning to get those thank-you notes written, or clean the closets, or create your business plan! Life happens.
But here’s the thing —
- In order to know what to do every day we need a plan, and that starts with having goals.
- To turn goals into reality, we have to list out the necessary tasks.
- To get those tasks done, they need to go on a calendar, and preferably on a specific week or day!
- Here’s the kicker — the reality is this — we will see things get bumped on our schedule. And often.
But you know what the really important thing is? How we deal with those bumps is what matters the most! My response to things not going my way gives me a hint of what’s really important to me. (Take time to answer these questions – it’s good for us to see what’s really behind our actions.)
When I’m frustrated with my messed up plan…
- Is it that I really wanted a perfect schedule over a practical one?
- Possibly I just want things to go my way and not anyone else’s?
- Could it be that I want to be more like ______ than who I am right now? (You stick in whoever comes to mind that you value or even secretly idolize.)
- Maybe I think life should look one way when God really wants me to evaluate what’s most important in life (and it might not be that perfectly Pinterest bedroom ;)
Go Ahead — Plan Anyway
Be flexible. Don’t stress. Plan anyway.
Think about all the explorers, scientists, and inventors who made headway one day only to have their plans disrupted the next. The key is — it didn’t stop them!
Envisioning a better day or life or relationship will move us forward. We’re like the explorers — we’re just exploring our own life and where we’re headed. It might not turn out exactly how we planned or perfectly on our timetable, but we are moving forward. So stay the course!
My Planning This Month
I got so busy last month that I missed posting my planner progress. Yes, I was not organized and let Christmas prep get the best of me! But I did have one goal — to enjoy the month celebrating with family and friends. We clocked in 6 parties in December, had 34 people in our home for New Year’s and each party and person was enjoyed to the fullest. So in the end, it was a win!
My encouragement for you:
Don’t let the Fear of Planning stop you. ~ Failure to meet your goals or “shoulds” is okay. ~ Use them to Fuel you! ~ Look for the Wins.
Even though I have yet to find the perfect planner (hah – surprise, surprise!) I do love the planning pages at the start of each month in Ruth Soukup’s *Living Well Planner. (see above pic) They encourage me to dream a bit, set time aside to look at reality and what I want to get done, plus I can review my past months to see how well I did! Highly recommended. (More posts on planners, here and here.)
So, here’s to the New Year, one that produces joy and success for each one of you, in your own way and your own timing!
The mind of man plans his way,
But the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9
*Zero pressure from us to purchase anything, but if you make a purchase through one of these links, you will help to support the work we do here at Living Above The Noise.
I enjoyed reading this article in a meditative trance, as tonight is another night I’m looking inward. As my mind wandered, I happened upon a question. A part of this question was based on experience, observation of others, and observations of myself. The question, I realized, seemed binary, and it was this: Could a fear of planning mean an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex? Is poor impulse control commonly found to relate with poor planning or a fear of it? Since the prefrontal cortex is responsible for planning, and the frontal lobes control emotion, I wonder if this fear goes hand in hand with certain emotional regularities (or irregularities, if you will). And thus, a fear of planning is just something some people aren’t good at; hey know they are expected to perform better, and thus they try to avoid planning because it’s not a part of the brain that is really well-developed to do it. We would probably all feel uncomfortable being given a problem by NASA that is relying upon us to solve it – unless you’re already a rocket scientist! We would avoid having that experience a second time. Of course, this is a silly thought, but the general message is: People fear what they don’t understand. They don’t understand how to plan. And, perhaps, they also might have poor impulse control or some other emotional problems. I’m no doctor, just a reader/researcher who loves to explore. Anyone with any thoughts, or any want to call me crazy/uneducated?
Thank you for your thoughtful comment! I was listening to a podcast yesterday by Professional Christian Coaching Institute.
( https://professionalchristiancoaching.com/328-brain-science-for-beginners/ ). They discussed what is called the “amygdala hijack” caused by our emotional overreaction to stress. When we experience stress, stress hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) are released causing many uncomfortable body sensations. Of course, we want to escape those sensations and resort to fight or flight to escape the “threat.”
Unhelpful habits can develop whenever we feel threatened, even by things that aren’t actually dangerous. The fear of planning can easily stem from this habit — the idea of “having to” plan or do the work on our plan might lead to an unknown end.
Our way out of this habit is to create a new habit. We can learn to recognize the habit and develop new responses to the perceived threat. And that’s where our prefrontal cortex (the rational brain) comes in! But first, we need to recognize the habit. Only then can we move into the rational part of our brain, where we can develop new habits to overcome old habits and fear.
Catherine Mullaney says
Thanks Terry! One of the things that I struggle with is that I am living life with my husband.(he is the non-planner and I am the planner) It has been one of the most challenging parts of marriage for me. We are living our life together. There is that ongoing tension of me wanting to plan and my man not wanting to even talk about it. He is very present to whomever he is with. He is merciful, kind, compassionate, and loving. People want him in their corner.
Thank you for the great tips and questions.
Yes, Catherine! I totally get this. I need to know what the plan is for tomorrow and next week and beyond (yet I struggle with staying organized in my thoughts and surroundings) thus my need for a personal planner and system. But my guy only needs his space organized and his small to-do list for the day. He’s not one to think about the future. Argh! For my personality, this makes me nervous and unsettled. Over the years, I’ve offered podcasts, books, tips, and planners to help get him to see the benefit of planning beyond today. To see the need for financial and event planning (especially with our big family!) — along with sharing how not planning makes me feel. I’m happy to say that after lots of years of learning for both of us, he’s actually getting used to the idea and seeing the benefit! Yay! Part of it is accepting your differences and the other part is finding a compromise. Hope this helps you discover what works for you both with less tension!
Wow! I do this!! I just got the LWSL planner this year and started with February! So far I’m doing ok but it is nerve wracking to me and I think it’s because I struggle with perfectionism. : (
I appreciate this post so much!! It makes me feel better! : ) Thanks!!!
Lisa, Don’t feel bad! I think there are more of us than we know. Wanting to get things in order is great…but also wanting to get them in the right order…now that’s the tough one to let go of! But I’m realizing each day, doing just one thing on my list is a move in the right direction! And that success will get me to do another tomorrow! Hang in there! And thanks for sharing.