Seize the moment: How to embrace spontaneity

Good weather can be so inspiring. On a gorgeous Saturday morning this summer, I woke up, looked outside, and thought “This would be a great day to go to the beach.” Fifty five minutes and six dollars later, my family and I were enjoying the sand in our toes and sun on our cheeks.

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As someone who is generally very organized and enjoys planning, this kind of spontaneous event doesn’t always come naturally. I know I’m not alone; many of my clients have expressed that keeping a full schedule is comfortable. It makes them feel busy, important, and content. There is safety in a full schedule, in knowing what you will be doing every hour. For some people, leaving time open can be intimidating. Without an activity planned, the anxious thoughts tend to creep in: Will I feel guilty spending time on something not life-improving or social media status worthy? What if I try something new, and it doesn’t go well? What will I spend that time doing? (If you’re thinking you could easily list a million things you’d do, check out this Powerchute with Brigid Schulte -- it may not be as simple as you think.)  

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The tendency to overplan, overthink, and try to do things the “right” way increases stress and heightens expectations. For example, if I had planned out my beach day ahead of time, I would have spent precious time reading online reviews, trying to pick the best spot, and reaching out to friends for beach recommendations. I would have gone grocery shopping and tried to make a fun and delicious picnic lunch. I would have invested so much time and energy that inevitably (though subconsciously) I would have heightened the bar for success, leading to greater room for frustration and disappointment. Instead, I embraced some spontaneity and went for the closest beach, with whatever snacks we had in the fridge. Was it gourmet and fabulous? Nope. But that made it all the more perfect.

For those of you that like to have life planned out, let this be a reminder that it is ok to be open to new experiences, even if they are not perfect. Instead of listening to the anxious thoughts about what could go wrong, try flipping the question and asking “what’s the worst thing that could happen?” With this mindset and some free time on your calendar, a new world of possibilities becomes available.

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So go ahead and take a chance: leave some free time on your calendar this week. Who knows what you might come up with in the moment!


The results of free time can surprise you.

Lauren Laitin