Posted by: Judy | August 10, 2016

Planning for the future

Those who have followed me for an extended period of time know I often berate myself for not figuring out how to move out a whole lot sooner, as in decades ago. A few times, I’ve mentioned my confrontation with my last counselor who asked when I was moving out every time I came in until I listed all my failed attempts to do exactly that. His amazement was easy too read. He acknowledged I truly had made an effort to move out, but things kept happening, throwing roadblocks in the way of my plans.

Yesterday, my sister blogged about “Symptoms.”

She included a link to the VA’s checklist regarding PTSD. Out of curiosity I read it.

And hit a surprise:

“Think I may not live very long and feel there’s no point in planning for the future.”

I learned at a very young age that I couldn’t make plans for the next week. Not because I might die but because I had no control of my life. I would plan, and I would have to change my plans. What was the point of planning? Schedules made for me, like school, were respected. Anything I planned for myself was subject to change at any time for no reason at all.

I’d forgotten one of my laments: “I can’t plan anything for the next five minutes, let alone next week or next year.”

Remember how some teachers would ask, “What are your plans for five years from now? What about ten years from now?”

I remember hating those assignments. My mind was always completely blank.

I’d make plans, and NM would have something come up, canceling out my plans.

Depending on NM’s mood, last minute plans were mostly out because NM would need me to do something. I can’t remember a time that NM wouldn’t ask, “Are your chores done?” Invariably, she would list something I hadn’t done and wasn’t beyond adding something new to the list.

Does this mean I did nothing and went nowhere? No. It means I had to pay a price for whatever I did. Funnily enough, I considered myself blessed.

I’ve lived over half a century, and I still have trouble with the idea of a five or ten-year plan. Book deadlines were an odd sort of blessing. I had plans for what I’d be doing from 2012 to this year. The last book I’m contracted for is due at the end of September. It will be printed in 2017. What then?

I’d completely forgotten my inability to plan ahead. I don’t know what to do with the realization, because I haven’t shown much improvement in planning ahead.

I make tentative plans with the anticipation that they will change.



  1. We learned the hard way that control over our lives is futile. Not your imagination, mother would give us something to do when we told her our plans. How dare we have a life beyond what she dictated then we were baffled when she would say, “Anything you want.” Just another one of her lies.

    • I think we even recognized the disconnect, but it didn’t matter. There was nothing we could do to correct or change it.

  2. I’m a big planner. My husband has learned that I generally dislike last minute invitations. I think it’s partly because being social is hard on this introvert and I need a minimum of time to rev myself up for social events, but a lot of it is also because I felt I had so little control over my life as a kid.

    Still, I tend to be flexible with my planning — but I like having steps towards something in place. Even something as (hopefully) ridiculous as “what would I do if I suddenly were homeless”, I have a back of my mind plan on how to deal (lol, writing that, it seems like I’m planning for an apocalypse or something). It just makes me feel better knowing my options, even if some aren’t very appealing.

    • I plan, but it’s mostly in the short term. What am I doing today? Keeping in mind things could change. I don’t simply anticipate change, I expect it.

      I don’t think it’s ridiculous to plan for homelessness. It’s all too real a possibility for too many people. There’s something comforting in knowing there are options.

      Very true about socializing being hard on an introvert.

      Judith, as I read your reply, I realize I do a lot of planning now. Thank you for helping me see that I have made changes. 🙂

      I still struggle with planning long term. The “where do you see yourself in five years” type of plan is beyond me, unless it’s a book due. I’ve been visualizing myself being in my own place for decades. So far, nope.

      Maybe that’s part of the fun and excitement of planning to attend the conference next year. A tiny part of me wonders if something will happen, but I endeavor to keep those pessimistic thoughts at bay.

      • I guess I don’t do the “where do you see yourself in 5 years” thing. But I do think things like “I want to run the Boston marathon with a qualifying time” and then set about how to reach that goal. So I guess it’s a version of where do I see myself, buying think of it more as picking a goal and setting about doing it.

        Homelessness would suck, but it definitely wouldn’t be the end of the world. I come up with lists of things I can do, like, I can cook, I can clean toilets, I can run a cash register, etc. it makes me feel less afraid. Instead of focusing on the hopelessness, I try to find the light.

        • I do that, too. Why don’t I remember that?

          I suppose I’ve been thinking more about the 5-year plan type of thing because my current book contract is almost fulfilled. I want to propose another one, but I’ve been so tired. The thought simply wears me out. LOL!

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