I am planning person, to say the least. When I tell people about my rolling 5-year personal plan in Excel they usually look like they’ve seen a green giraffe fly over the rooftops.
Every January, as part of my annual planning process, I update my 5-year plan, evaluate and rate previous year, develop guiding principles for the coming year and set 4-5 goals with associated activities for the new year.
Sounds like I should see someone about this?
Well it works for me. Half-year reviews with myself gives me an endorphin-high the size of a teenage kiss.
In 2016 I had no plan.
This was not a conscious decision and I didn’t even notice it until I sat down for my review in January. As the chock settled I realised that this was exactly what I needed last year. I guess a part of my brain somehow understood this but decided to keep quiet about it so I wouldn’t protest.
2016 was the year I overcame fertility problems, had a pregnancy fraught with complications, fought discrimination at work, had an emergency caesarean and became a mother. Trying to fit that into columns and rows would not have been a good idea.
Fate however smiled at my obsession with planning and arranged for my pregnancy to follow the calendar months, starting in January. One must have some order after all.
It makes me wonder – is it necessary to have a serial car crash in our lives to change deeply entrenched behaviours?
If we instead consciously change these behaviours do we develop just as much? Or even more?
Today I took time off my parental leave and wrote my 2017 plan. I am proud that I waited until February and that the plan doesn’t contain a single colour-coded rating system.
It is however still in Excel.
1. The Mariana Trench of Love
I expected I’d sit and watch the baby for hours but I was not prepared for the bottomless love I feel for Otto. (The Mariana Trench is the world’s deepest oceanic area). He still feels part of my body in a way. Even more surprising is the intimacy I now feel with my partner. I thought the baby cuddles would fill my closeness quota, but no. I feel even greater love for my partner and want even more hugs and kisses. A very pleasant surprise.
2. Helicopter Mom Deluxe
I was convinced that I would be a chilled out mom. Someone who doesn’t use hand sanitizer before every meal or obsess over how warm the baby is. But how wrong I was. I have a helicopter mom default setting and almost feel physical pain when he cries. If someone coughs in the supermarket (the longest trip we have taken so far), I wish that there was industrial power antiseptic spray I could use.
3. Prestige flestige
I was happy to discover that I left most of my career and life performance anxiety in the delivery room. The fact that it took two weeks before I updated the blog after giving birth didn’t bother me at all. A nice side effect indeed. A sort of must-dos detox.
4. Total world isolation
I never understood the so called baby bubble before it hit me. People told me to ‘enjoy the bubble’ or ‘we’ll see you when you’re out of the bubble’. The less charming side of this bubble is perhaps that you don’t have time to read a newspaper, watch your favourite series or use conditioner when you shower. On the other hand the rather pleasant side of the bubble is that things that world affairs or my housing cooperative politics seems completely unimportant. That said, I couldn’t ignore the terrible saga of the US presidential election. On election night I for once appreciated the night feedings so I could follow the news coverage.
5. The mother of efficiency
I now have two settings. The first, a distraught, apathetic zombie-like mode that is often on after a rough night. The second, a hyper efficient mode when I can empty the dishwasher, pay the bills, do the laundry, update Instagram, call mom and bake a pie, all while Otto sleeps. I, who am usually a task master and have spent my life chasing efficiencies and multitasking, am in awe of myself as a new mother.