Tend to the present, but plan the future

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It takes a bit of skill to live in the present, but also plan for your future.  Photo by Chase Clark on Unsplash

We all like to create lives with a sense of present security, but also a sense of future adventure.  Sometimes this creates contradictions.  After all, one cannot have full security, whilst also experiencing adventure.  It is in the nature of adventure to interrupt security; and it is in the nature of security to hold back adventure.

GARDENING

To use the analogy of a garden… part of your life is like a garden that you manage all the time.  You know how you like to live through a day, how you like to entertain yourself, when you like to feed yourself, and what routines give you comfort.  This is like a gardener’s usual routine… the watering, the tidying up, the lawn-mowing.

But part of you is looking to the future, seeking to create a future life that’s just a little bit different.  This is a different kind of gardening, and has a lot more planning in it.  When gardeners plan, they get their sketchbooks out.  They gather their thoughts on developments they want to make.  They allow themselves to feel more radical about new designs.

MAINTENANCE TIME AND VISIONARY TIME

This gives rise to two types of time in your life.

Firstly, maintenance time is the way you keep existing routines going.  It is characterised by:

  • Automatic routines that you are familiar with
  • A focus on keeping your immediate surroundings tidy
  • The avoidance of disturbance
Secondly, visionary time is the way you build an interesting future.  It is characterised by:

  • The breaking of existing routines in favour of step changes
  • Allowing temporary mess and disturbance in the interests of those step changes
Maintenance and visionary time are therefore contradictory.  Some people even divide their relationships up into the two types.  Some people will have a routine relationship to feed their security, and then cultivate an exciting affair to feed their wish for adventure and change.  This is one solution, but it can create chaos in a life, as you are using people as stimulants to feed opposing needs.  It is likely that your routine person will become upset at being treated as routine; and perhaps your adventure person may become upset at being excluded from your routine life.

BALANCING ADVENTURE AND SECURITY

A wiser approach is to develop the capacity, in one integrated life, for both routine care and maintenance, and a bit of step-change and adventure.

It takes a bit of awareness to work out what suits.  Many lives need to be 80 per cent maintenance, and 20 per cent adventure.  It is easy to neglect adventure and development in such a life.  You may need to set aside special time for newness and exploration.

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A MEDITATION

How do I balance my life between my need for security, and my need for adventure?  Do I spend enough time making the basics work, repairing things, building healthy routines, ‘taking care of the existing plants’?  Equally, do I spend enough time doing next year’s design, and preparing to break a bit of new ground?

Am I a good gardener of my existing routines, watering at the right time, staying tidy, and keeping everything in order?

Equally, am I a good planner of the future, targeting key areas for improvement, and setting aside time to break the mould where appropriate?

It is hard to do both, but it is part of creating a life balanced with both security and adventure.

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