Be Flexible

I preach organization, planning, goal-setting and list making but not to the exclusion of being flexible. You may have noticed that on the last day of 2015, I posted 13 Down, 2 To Go. That’s right on the final day of 2015, we had completed only 13 of the 15 adventures we set as goals for 2015. We didn’t watch a boat parade during the holiday season, and I didn’t catch a redfish.

Meghan caught my redfish.
Meghan caught my redfish.

Sure, it was possible to complete these two, but things changed. A 90th birthday celebration and a memorial service for a loved one took priority. Squeezing in a parade and a fishing trip just to check them off a list would have taken away the joy and caused a busy November and December to be filled with stress.

What’s the purpose of the 15 in 15 list? It’s an attempt to make sure we get out and do things we enjoy. When we started the list in 2013 we were still working and relied on the list to make the most of our weekends and time away from work. Retiring in May, the list took on a different meaning. We no longer need to plan how to use precious days off. Instead, our 15 in 15 list served as a resource in planning our new found freedom.

An unscheduled trip to Miami, sailing and biking, took priority over a redfish trip planned in August. We can go fishing later, right?


A camping trip in the Panhandle morphed into a camping trip up the east coast just because we had more time.

Trying to accomplish an unrealistic goal just because it’s on a list causes unnecessary stress. Lack of flexibility may also result in missed opportunities. Sometimes our plans are not in our own best interests so it’s important to adapt to changes to be successful. Being flexible also makes it possible for you to effectively face challenges. You haven’t failed when you change the plan. Instead, you’ve learned the original plan failed to meet your needs.

You’ve probably heard John Lennon’s famous quote: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Replacing an air conditioner with the money saved for a down payment on a car…that’s life.

Twisting your ankle the week before cross country camp…that’s life.

An accident that sidelines you from your daily routine…that’s life.

Babies that arrive earlier than expected…that’s life.

Hurricanes, floods, blizzards and so many other natural events that interrupt schedules or even change lives forever…again, that’s life.

And life isn’t something that gets in the way of our plans. It reminds us that our plans aren’t always a priority.

I’m not going to stop planning, and I hope you won’t either. Being organized, setting goals and making lists are all worthwhile activities, but it’s just as important to be flexible.