As a psychologist and Maternal Mental Health specialist, it’s much more common for me to…
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I love the sense of accomplishment and the rush of dopamine I get when I can check something off of my to do list.
In motherhood, this sense of accomplishment is so often right at my fingertips and at the same time a million miles away.
I knew this would be the deal going in. I knew that my entire life would shift. But, I didn’t know it would feel like this.
I didn’t know how it would feel for my time to not be my own.
That’s been really hard.
Right when I think I’ve nailed the childcare schedule, my work schedule, who is walking the dog, who is eating what, something happens.
Something gets cancelled, someone gets sick, the dog is on another poop strike, and there’s a weird collection of food in the fridge that we can sort of make a meal out of.
This really upsets that type A part of me that loves a plan.
And I really love a plan. But I know that as soon as I make one everything is going to shift again. My anxiety and I can’t anticipate every possibility. No matter how hard we try.
The real problem is that I am not in control. In fact, I’m completely out of control. Oof. Just writing that makes me nauseous.
Want to know something really cool that I do when I feel scared and out of control? I become extra controlling.
It’s awesome. Truly. Ask my husband how awesome it is, he will tell you it’s the best.
It’s this vicious cycle I get caught in. A spinning hamster wheel I can’t get off so I stay on even though it makes me motion sick.
So I’ve devised a new approach. Because I can’t not have a plan. I can’t NOT be in control somehow. It’s too scary and too unsettling and I don’t like it.
What I CAN do is trick myself into thinking I have a plan while having no plan. Yes, I’m now really good at playing mind games with myself. Because I have to be.
I can’t let my anxiety, type A tendencies, and need to control things actually run the show around here anymore. It’s not good for anyone.
Do you want to know how I do this?
I know you do. And I promise it’s easier than you think.
The No Plan Plan
That’s right. I said it.
I have embraced The No Plan Plan.
That’s my current plan! I don’t have one!
I still keep a to do list and I LOVE checking off the boxes. I keep it simple. The things that absolutely HAVE to get done that day.
And I include things like:
- Walk the dog
- Empty dishwasher
- Food prep
- Drink water
Things I need to do anyway, but I get to have the feeling of accomplishment and the dopamine rush of checking the box on my to do list (I literally draw a box for me to check. It is sooooooo satisfying).
The No Plan Plan doesn’t really modify anything that happens during the day. Except my mindset. And my expectations.
When I’m expecting things to run the way they ran in the “before times” (before I was a mom and before Covid), I find myself on that hamster wheel of doom.
BUT! When my expectations are in alignment with the fact that this is a five ring circus and I’m not in control no matter how hard I try, things go more smoothly.
I’m more open to being present. I’m open to the possibilities. I’m open to adventure.
Which is a much nicer experience.
I’m also way less bent out of shape when everything goes to hell in a handbasket.
Which it so often does.
Since my plan was to have no plan I’m nailing it.
You know what I mean?
So if you, like me, love a plan and find it really hard to wrap your head around the lack of control, autonomy, and authority you currently have over your life, you’re now one step away from reclaiming your power.
The No Plan Plan!
Here’s how you do it:
- Like making plans, choose a date and time that you’d like to execute the no plan plan.
- Block off that time in your calendar and write “No Plan Plan.”
- Pat yourself on the back for making the No Plan Plan a real, tangible part of your life.
- When it’s go-time, do what feels right in that moment. Since you don’t have an agenda you are successfully executing your “plan” by doing whatever you want.
- When you want to do something else, do it!
- That’s it.
Since the plan is no plan you don’t have to have an answer to anything really. That’s how you know you’re doing it right.
Also note: while you set aside a set amount of time for the No Plan Plan you can always extend it! Indefinitely.
Let us know how it goes here!