Embrace Plan B!

This one phrase has literally changed my life.  Have you ever been so consumed by the thought that if you can’t do something perfectly why do it at all?  Or life as you know it will certainly fall apart if things don’t go according to your plan?  Do you agonize over every mistake that you make?  Are your expectations of yourself and others so high that no one can ever live up to them leaving you and those around you overwhelmed and frustrated?

Acknowledging those thoughts goes a long way in combating them.

flower

These are all insecurities that have plagued me in the past.  In the not so distant past actually.  As I mentioned in my interview with Professional Organizer, Debbie Jordon Kravitz, I use to completely fall apart if something didn’t go according to my plan.  To say I was a control freak was an understatement.  Spontaneous wasn’t even a word in my dictionary because heaven forbid I actually do something without planning it to death.  It was terrible and I’m sure I wasn’t a lot of fun to live with.  But slowly over the years I’ve learned to let go of these exhausting tendencies and embrace the Plan B.

And what I’ve found out is that there is almost always a Plan B solution if you look for one.  You might even have to go to plan D or Q but you know what?  It isn’t the end of the world.  In fact, as I’ve discovered, often Plan B is a much better option if you are open to the possibilities.  What it allows me to do is live more in the present because I’m not dwelling on what I really have no control of anyway.

When, last Christmas, my turkey was two hours late in cooking I didn’t go into a tailspin meltdown as I may have in previous years.  Instead I served up some cheese and crackers, pulled out some board games and had a great time with my guests.

And it wasn’t the end of the world.

In fact I have had more cooking disasters in the last four years than I have fingers to count.  It used to devastate me and now I actually get excited about it because if nothing else Plan B makes for great blog posts as was the case with both my pizza braid and my apple pie :)

And it all worked out in the end.

flowera

I can’t pinpoint one “A-Ha” moment for myself where the light bulb went off for me.  I think it has just been happening slowly in the past four years as I’ve transitioned into a more simplified lifestyle.  As I started acknowledging and putting a voice to my Plan B’s I’ve slowly become aware that Plan B isn’t my enemy.  It isn’t so scary after all.  I’ve discovered that I actually love the challenge of switching into Plan B mode.  Of not panicking but immediately saying to myself “okay we’re going to Plan B, now how can I make the most of this situation?”  I like this problem solving mode, it’s a challenge, a new way of looking at things and as a result a new more relaxed me.

Now let me just be honest here for a sec and tell you that I may be a recovering perfectionist but there are days where I still struggle.  I don’t even want to begin to tell you how long I put off writing this post because I was so worried I wouldn’t do it justice.  In other words, perfectly.  Today I decided to just start writing and can see Plan B playing itself out in the fact that it’s not how I originally intended for this post to be written.   I had hoped it would be more organized and factual but instead my fingers have moved more into writing from the heart.   Well that’s the way it goes sometimes and Plan B is a risk I’m now willing to take.  I give myself permission to try things and risk being imperfect.  And I just bet that the world isn’t going to fall down around me because of it.

Today I’d like to encourage you to try something new, to step out of your comfort zone in some way, to not be afraid of losing control, and most importantly to embrace Plan B!

For more tips on overcoming perfectionism please don’t miss my interview with Debbie here.

images courtesy of noodlefish

Filed under: Motivation-Encouragement, My Life
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Comments

30 Responses to Embrace Plan B!

  1. 1
    Anna says

    Perfectionism sometimes cripples me to the point where if I can’t do something perfectly, I won’t do it at all. This is compounded by laziness and leads to disastrous outcomes because I’m too lazy and discouraged to live up to my own expectations. A combination of flexibility and discipline is so important, I’m learning – right along the lines of this post.

  2. 2
    Courtney says

    Great post! The whole point of being organized is to make our lives easier and being a perfectionist does just the opposite.

  3. 3
    Debbie JordanKravitz says

    An “all or nothing” approach is very common among perfectionists. It definitely was for me, as well as all of the people I interviewed for the book. And although it’s very hard for a perfectionist to admit that they’ve “failed” at something, if you can truly embrace the fact that you’re human and imperfect, it can be quite a liberating feeling! Whenever I get stuck and find myself timid to extend outside my comfort zone, I try to remind myself that life if for living, not perfecting.

    Great post, Laura!

  4. 4
    Angela says

    In the last few months I have not had the chance to go all the way through with Plan A, as my 2 year old who has an ASD has been on a down hill spiral. This was a great post and it came at the perfect time for me to read it.

  5. 5
    Joyce says

    I hear you on this. If I was ever a manager, I’d totally be micro-managing one. Yikes! But after having kids, I have let a lot of things go because really, those aren’t the important things in life. Thanks for sharing this.

  6. 6
    heather @ what's blo says

    You must be talking to me. I’m a manager of over 130 people – try not to micromanage but am know as the “uber planner”. It’s 5:45 PM on a Friday night and I’m waiting for my boss to call to tell me if the plans for the weekend event are coming together or if they are being postposed until a later date. The planner in me is freaking out. But the organized, reasonable person knows that it will be okay with Plan B – just have to swallow it and LET IT HAPPEN.

  7. 7
    ter says

    I’m not a perfectionist, per se, but I do have the tendency to say “well if it can’t be the way I want it then why bother”. This has gotten worse since my daughter died and even worse after my husband died. I’m totally overwhelmed right now and I don’t really know where to start. My house looks like a tornado hit it because I just don’t know what to do anymore. I hate this. I wish I could afford to hire a professional to come and help me get my house organized. Part of the problem is that we started renovating just before we found out my husband’s cancer was back. *sigh* the other part of the problem is I get depressed having to do it all on my own and I got a ton of paper work after he died and/or while he was in the hospital, so I don’t really know what to do with anything anymore. I’m not complaining, just saying. If you have any advice for me, please let me know. (and at risk of complaining some more I’ve been plagued with a terribly sore hip for a few months now (suspected arthritis) which doesn’t help but my frame of mind makes it difficult to ignore the pain and get my work done.

  8. 8
    sandy says

    You know me, Laura – just with the flow … right?

    Great post!

  9. 9
    Annie says

    I’ve learned that my life consists of plenty of plan B’s…but then I’m not a perfectionist by any means!!

  10. 11
    Tiffanee says

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  11. 12
    Jena OrganizingMommy says

    Laura, I secretly admire perfectionists. I can’t even think about a plan A, let alone a plan at all half the time. But I think my husband and kids struggle with it. It seems debilitating. Glad you are having more good days than bad these days. Anything we have to work to overcome makes us stronger, better teachers and more compassionate toward others who are struggling.

  12. 13
    Shannon / Channyne says

    Your post came at the perfect time, I’ve been really trying to let go lately… stems from watching my hubby struggle with the chaos of our 3 little ones. I often remind him (and myself) “we can fight it or embrace the moment”. It just feels good! Not to mention I feel like my kids notice that I’m not worried so much about the aftermath but having fun in the moment. Thanks for the reminder…

  13. 14
    Heather says

    This article totally hit home. I am a semi-recovered perfectionist…..meaning I have embraced Plan B in certain situations. I am working on keeping Plan B an option for all situations.

    Thanks for this post! It was a helpful reminder to just let go and go with the flow. It really makes life easier and a whole lot more enjoyable!!!

  14. 15
    Taximom says

    Great post!

    {{{HUGS}}} to ter and to Angela.

    Ter, I’m awfully sorry to read all you’ve been through. One step at a time, one room at a time! Try spending just one hour attacking one room, or even one surface of a room.

    As for your hip, this is a long shot, but check out gluten intolerance–I know several people whose rheumatoid arthritis turned out to be celiac disease. And be aware that vaccines can cause debilitating autoimmune disorders, with joint pain at the top of the symptom list. I’m not saying not to get needed vaccines, just be aware that this can happen.

    Angela, you are probably already aware of the link between ASD and both diet and vaccines, but just in case, check out fourteenstudies.org and ageofautism.com.

    Good luck to you both, and thanks again for a great inspirational post, Laura!

    Angela, you’ve probably already discovered

  15. 16
    Sue says

    Yep, I know I’m a perfectionist. Part of it is from being a first-born child and the other is from being abused as a child. (The whole thing of if I told it in more detail & told it better maybe someone would believe me thing) Anyhoot, I am learning, it’s been a slow process… I have stinky time-management skills & expect something to be done in this amount of time & it rarely is. I have given myself permission to keep going… and eventually it will be done… For instance… cleaning the ‘Jam Room’ (the room where you jam everything into it – aka the back room). I had hoped to have it organized in a month, it’s taken me 3… and you know what there are still little bits that are not done to my expectations – but that’s ok. One little step at a time.
    ‘Ter’ praying for you. I have started by making myself organize just one little spot – and sometimes even that doesn’t get done… you can do it.
    Laura – great posts recently about time management & perfectionism… You’re the best!!!

  16. 17
    Becky Lowmaster says

    I’m not a perfectionist but I am a planner. I plan vacations and have too much agenda in it. My husband just didn’t like many of vacations. Found out he’s not a traveller but I am. I’ve learned to ask more suggestions in planning…how many days to stay, what type of hotel. Cheaper isn’t the best, believer me. Lived and learned!! You can unplan something on your trip as you go.

    Ter, I will be praying for you. So sorry to hear of your loss of daughter and husband. Everything seems overwhelming right now. But doing a bit at a time to downsize what you have in front of you will help.

    http://grandmabeckyl.blogspot.com

  17. 18
    Taylor says

    Great thoughts, thanks!

  18. 19
    Theresa Finnigin says

    Great post. Relax and see the “glass half full” and plan B’s quickly turn into plan A’s (the better plan!). Thanks for sharing.

  19. 20
    Steph. says

    How weird! I just posted something about perfectionism and my quest to let go of that as well. Can’t wait to go read that interview! (Delurking here, but I always love your posts!)

  20. 21
    Cassie says

    Great post, Laura! I am really bad for this as well. I absolutely HAVE to get things perfect, just the way I invision them in my head, or I will have a meltdown. It’s not fun but I am slowly recovering and am also trying to be okay with having to move on to plan B. Or C or D or E…

  21. 22
    The Happy Housewife says

    Great post! I struggle with the same issues. Fortunately having 7 kids makes you realize that plans B,C, and D are okay and sometimes things are even better when they don’t go according to your plan :).
    Thanks for being transparent.
    Toni

  22. 23
    Laura says

    Such thoughtful comments. Thanks everyone, so nice to know I’m not alone. This has definitely been a journey for me and one that didn’t happen overnight but the results have been amazing.

    Blessings!

  23. 24
    Pam says

    This really hit me today. I struggle with being an overwhelmed perfectionist and it results in me not doing anything because I can’t do it perfectly. I am trying to recover from this illness. Haha. Thanks for the timely article. I love your blog.

  24. 25
    kelly says

    aw, this is so true. definitely something that i’ve grown into!

    i love this post — especially the part about your thanksgiving turkey. been there!

    kelly
    http://tearinguphouses.blogspot.com

  25. 26
    charmaine says

    I just posted a huge comment about how you help with all things in my life without knowing me but as mums and wanting the best for our families and ourselves and how perfectionism can be quite upsetting at times and you know i lost the lot!

    I wanted to say that your post really hit home for me about having to learn to let go of things and being able to accept what we cant change. Embracing what i can control and letting go of what i cant makes a huge difference to how i am learning to cope.
    I dont compete with others for things because i feel that someone can always do something better than me and i tend to to limit myself in that respect but i am learning and getting better:)
    I really enjoy visitng your blog and alot of the time i can so relate to what you have written.
    Sometimes it is almost as if it has come from my heart without being able to write it. And i find myself nodding myself and agreeing wholeheartedly about what you have written.

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