There are two types of people in this world: worriers and non-worriers. While non-worriers will often have concerns about certain circumstances or events in their life, these thoughts are rarely consuming; problems to be solved rather than a constant preoccupation. In contrast, worriers tend to have “worry” as their default setting; even without an immediate concerning circumstance, they find themselves distracted by thoughts about what has, or could, happen.
The way that worriers and non-worriers see the world and approach tasks is very different. Similarly, what works for the latter – who are, generally, the majority – won’t necessarily work for the former. If you are prone to worrying, then following general advice about anything is unlikely to produce good results, but the issue is all the more prevalent when it comes to life planning.
What is “life planning”?
Life planning is a catch-all term that simply means making decisions regarding your future. Contemplating your retirement, for example, is a form of life planning, as is thinking about options for healthcare, assisted living, downsizing your house, and much more besides; essentially, planning anything that will ultimately influence the way you live in future.
On the whole, effective life planning is incredibly beneficial. It’s helpful to know where you would like to be in one, five, or ten years, so you can strategize plans and actions that will help you achieve this goal.
There are two different methods worriers tend to use when planning their future life:
- Avoidance. Worriers find the idea of making future decisions so stressful, they simply avoid doing so.
- Over-focus. Alternatively, warriors may take the exact opposite route, choosing to focus more than is natural (or necessary) on their future life plans.
Oddly enough, neither is ideal. Avoidance can leave people exposed, while over-focusing can lead to unnecessary stress and an inability to live in the present.
How should worriers approach life planning?
If you are a worrier, here are a few tips that can make life planning a little more manageable:
- Set flexible goals. Setting goals is helpful when planning for the future, but can be a source of unnecessary worry. It’s therefore useful to set flexible goals; for example, rather than “I will have X amount of money saved by the time I’m X age”, keep the boundaries flexible – a rough amount saved by the time you’re around a certain age.
- Set planning goals. While flexible goals are useful when it comes to life choices, planning-related goals are an excellent tool for those who tend to avoid life-planning. For example, you could set the goal of “I will have looked into assisted living possibilities by the end of June”. Using planning goals helps to ensure you avoid, well, avoiding important thoughts for too long, while also allowing you a little extra space, as you don’t have to start on those plans immediately.
- Diarize your life-planning activities schedule. Including one day per month in your schedule as “life planning day” is a great way of overcoming the risks of over-focusing. If you feel the need to plan outside of your designated planning time, then note down the thought and set it aside for later consideration.
Life planning is always a tough ask for worriers. Hopefully, the tips above should help you to plan effectively for the future, but without experiencing any unnecessary stress or concern as a result of doing so.