As the new year approaches, the date reset in itself is enough to make us feel we are given a chance to start again, with seemingly infinite possibilities. Opening a new daily planner or diary only adds to that, and all this fresh, blank paper invites a lot of dreams and ideas of what you could fill them with … but in the end most people just plot in stuff they know will happen, and the ideas and dreams are gradually written off again because there wasn’t enough time, or money, or it just didn’t happen somehow.
However, there is a huge difference between plotting and planning. You plot in birthdays, deadlines, flight times and events you know will happen. Planning, on the other hand, is a conscious decision to build up to something, to gradually and steadily make something happen that perhaps couldn’t otherwise become reality.
An example: In my new diary I have plotted in the date when I am flying out to Madrid to start my Spring Camino with my husband. My tickets are booked and paid for and all I really have to do is to pack, remember my passport and be there on time.
I have also subscribed to a Spanish course which runs out two days before the flight, and am planning to get through it before I go. In order to make this happen, I have to use it regularly, or I won’t actually learn any Spanish. I have a number of weeks and a number of lessons, so I am making notes in the diary of how much I need to get through in a week in order to finish the course before I go and my subscription runs out.
As a freelance translator I rely on good planning. I have a set date for my deadline and missing the deadline is not an option, ever! So I plot in the date and then plan how to get the work done on time – I subtract the days I want to have off, have other plans etc plus a one week buffer, divide the number of pages by number of working days, and that gives me my working plan. If something happens and I fall behind, the deadline still won’t change so I will have to work longer days, or some of my proposed days off, or even cancel something else I wanted to do.
It’s not that different from having your return ticket from Santiago – you still have the freedom to plan the daily stages as you wish, as long as you are there for the flight. You do some long days, some short days, you might have to stop, rest, get a taxi for whatever reason. But it always pays to have a plan, like figuring out how many kms a day will get you there on time.
The same goes for saving up for things – putting a little away regularly and watching it build up for that thing you want to spend it on. The plan might shift and change along the way, or you might need to revise it or consider your priorities, but just like a guidebook it will show you how to get there step by step.
So one of my plans this year is to learn more Spanish. Another is to get as many kms in before my Spring Camino as I will be doing in those two weeks (272,3 kms, according to the Godesalco planner, or 15 of my fave training walks) not counting everyday Fitbit kms – I want them to be proper days out. And researching and planning my stages and time needed for my walk from Oslo to Trondheim, as well as training for it and saving up for it.
What are you planning to do or achieve in the new year?