February 2, 2014
Sunday, 3:00 p.m.
Letter #316: Planning to Plan
Some famous French guy with four names once said that nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely. He must have lived before the television, video games, or YouTube, because for the life of me I’ve not discovered a whole lot of wisdom in any time devoted to those pursuits. And you probably know by now that I’m fairly passionate about time management, goal-setting and the pursuit of excellence toward those goals. Yet, somehow, some way, I’ve completely bombed recently, leaving projects undone, letters unwritten, and checkboxes unchecked.
It started before Christmas, my recipe for disaster: a big change in the prison’s standard program, a bit of procrastination, and a healthy dose of taking on WAY too many projects, and (to use a French word myself) voilà! I was behind on just about every goal I set for myself. I got so far behind, I stopped setting goals. I binge-ate ice cream every night until 4:00 a.m., ballooning to a hideous size. (No, I didn’t. That last sentence is only what I FELT like doing, if I’d had a car, money, and no sense of self-control.)
I didn’t send my brother, Michael, my Christmas card design until the week before Christmas, which he turned around and incredibly returned to me just a few days later, ready to send out. I sent a hundred out, but dozens more I never got to. Now with Valentine’s Day approaching, would it be completely weird to send out the remaining cards? No, I just need to do it. For those of you who still haven’t received one yet, I’m sorry …
It’s crazy what a tiny bit of procrastination can do. Putting off the cards, for example, pushed that project right into the new year—and along came Joe, my new cellie, with all the drama, excitement, conversations, devotions together, and more that it entails. I’m super grateful to be his cellie, but I should have been better prepared, having my priorities in line and setting achievable goals based on my priorities.
When enough of my “should do” items became covered in cobwebs, I became discouraged and shut them away in an old storage shed in my mind. (Sorry to those of you who wrote me during this time and never received a response. No excuse.) That wasn’t a great idea, because I’m going to eventually need to get those projects done.
I’m working my way out of the mess I created, don’t worry! For starters, I killed off some insane projects I should have never taken on in the first place. (I mean, write a 3½ hour play? It had so much potential, but I declined the offer.) I took a short break from Bible College, and I cut back on the number of classes I teach every week. Still my days seemed full—too full to get some things done that needed doing. What was taking up my time?
I evaluated how I spent my days. Any time I’m out in the pod, I bring my folder with homework to correct or business plans to edit, and if I’m not in the pod, I’m busy teaching a class. In my cell, my time is spent investing in Joe—we talk, study, read, pray, and talk some more. I can’t say it’s wasted time, because it is the right thing to do, and I am rewarded by his growth in character.
So where did my disappointment come from? Was it due to me having to watch my carefully-made plans die horribly? Could I have so dramatically missed God’s intentions for me that I became convinced my plans were His all along?
Whatever the case may be, I am grateful He is directing my days. I’ve felt His hand guiding me, and I need it! In the meantime, I’ll let the big monthly goals take a backseat to what He chooses. And if I find some ice cream, I’m paying Jiminy Cricket to look the other way.