Planning Ahead of Time

A little over a year ago, my parents wanted to take some of their grandchildren to Disneyland, and they were so kind to let my sister and I tag along (the moms). We were all excited taking pictures at the entrance, and then we went in. My sister noticed that all of the walkways in the park came back to this statue (above). She called her kids in close and told them, “If you get lost, come back to this statue, and I will come find you.” Just a few hours later, no one could find my 6 year old niece. After looking for only a minute, my sister said, “I’m going to the statue. That’s where I told her I’d find her.” My sister was back in just a few minutes with her daughter. Every time I think of this story I get emotional. Just the trust that my sister had put in her kids to listen to her, and then the trust that my niece had put in her mom to follow her directions. It’s so touching to me.

There are so many lessons in this story, but one that is really useful is to plan ahead. We think of this mostly as planning what we want to get done, but think about planning ahead how you want to feel. Our thoughts create our feelings, so we can decide ahead of time how we want to feel, by planning what thoughts to think in certain situations. That’s a big reason I do Thursday Thoughts. Everyone is different, so we need different thoughts to feel the way we want to.

Let’s say you want to get some posts written on your blog today (hypothetically), but when you think about it, you feel overwhelm and doubt. Not the best or easiest emotions to write blog posts from. In this situation, perhaps you want to feel focused and inspired. Since those are both emotions, you can come up with some thoughts that make you feel that way, so you can feel focused and inspired while writing your blog posts. Instead of thinking, “I have no idea what to write. People will think it’s stupid.” You could think, “What would I tell my past-self to help her along with her day?” or “There are people who will benefit from my experiences, just as I benefit from other people’s experiences.”

What if you told your kids that you would play a game with them today, but you feel really bored when you think of playing Guess Who for the 1000th time? Perhaps you could change your thought to, “This is going to be fun.” or “How can I make this fun?” or “I love the way she laughs when she wins.”

Remember that you don’t get to plan ahead how anyone else is going to feel, just how you’re going to feel, no matter how anyone else behaves. My sister couldn’t control if her kids listened to her when she told them to go to the statue, but she decided ahead of time what she was going to feel trust. Magic happened when her daughter did the same.