The Power of a Plan
Every now and then, when I stop to take a breath and look to see what is next on my to-do list, it dawns on me how much I have going on in my life.
In addition to serving as ALA’s President and working at my full-time job at my new firm, I am raising my 10-year-old son as a single parent — making sure I volunteer at my son’s school, participate in local chapter events and just have fun. Most people who know me assume that I have a casual attitude about almost everything, and I am told that I rarely show any signs of stress. Do I get stressed out sometimes? Absolutely, and what gives me away is when something goes off the rails, I get quiet. I take a minute or two to gather my thoughts, and most of the time I realize I have several mini backup plans rolling around in my head. I am always a little surprised that they are swirling around in there, because I do not remember spending a lot of time creating them.
REHEARSING IN YOUR MIND
Over the years, I have trained my brain. Leave it to one of my son’s favorite shows, "Brain Games," to tip me off about how this happened. The episode was about habits and how they are created. If you do something repeatedly, your brain and mind will continue to support and encourage the habit through neuroplasticity. The more you practice or rehearse something, the stronger your neural connections become. (This is also the scientific term that explains why we are all addicted to looking at our phones when our hands are idle, even though we just confirmed there aren’t any new emails in the inbox.)
I know you are all a lot like me. We do so much planning in our daily roles that we do not even realize we are doing it sometimes. “If I do this, then I will do this, or I could do this,” runs on a continual loop in my brain. I have created this loop because it is what has been essential for me to survive in this career. Contingency planning is a mindset, and it becomes a naturally occurring one when you do it often enough. Just because you are planning does not make you a worrier. It is possible to be a positive person yet constantly plan an alternative in case things do not work out. It reminds me of that favorite interview question of some people I know, “Do you think you are lucky?” You create your own luck when you are ready for anything.