Planning versus Spontaneity

In the task of feeling better, planning is often putting the cart before the horse. Planning has a natural role where great deal of activity is going on and a lot of resources are being used. However, a natural progression in single-person endeavors is first spontaneous activity, then planning, if necessary.

Where planning is a good idea, it does come before implementation. That is, in planned endeavors, elaborate thought comes before limited action. This yields great advantage, say, in the building of a bridge. Planning is essential in endeavors that many people are engaged in. In our society, the model of planning comes from business and government. Planning generates an advantage for business or government because the money or direct power will lead to others doing specifically what is planned. This gives planning the aura of great power.

From this aura of power, the hope arises that planning will provide motivation as well as organization. When we plan for ourselves, however, we usually don't follow up or persist in areas where there is no satisfaction. As individuals, we follow satisfaction (or satisfaction substitutes) more than plans. People who plan in the absence of enjoyment usually end up berating themselves for a perceived lack of will power. When satisfaction is very low, it may seem that satisfaction is a difficult task and so planning is needed more than ever.

Planning in the absence of much ongoing pleasure has three main drawbacks. 1) It is abstract and future oriented, taking us out of the present and out of the body, 2) It can become a type of fantasy, that is, the energy that would go into building a feeling is drained off. While feeling impels action, fantasy does not. 3) It can produce an elated feeling, but elation leads to disappointment, even when things turn out pretty much as planned.

Children do not plan play. Playing is trying out a lot of things and seeing what is liked and what feels good. Every child knows that if someone overly dictates what everyone will do, the play becomes no fun.

Complex and deep satisfactions are built on simple satisfactions. For instance, young people who know how to play usually are able find satisfaction in college coursework and finish. Even very intelligent young people who cannot enjoy simple satisfactions tend to find college desolate, and often quit, and planning will not change this.

Spontaneity is not the same as impulsiveness. Impulsive actions are both unplanned and undertaken to avoid a feeling. Being spontaneous, on the other hand, is following feeling including empathy and the feeling of danger.