Melissa’s Stages of Contemplation

17 May

“This is the way it is going to be.”

Sometimes making that decision is the hardest part of achieving something.

It’s certainly the way I work.

If I don’t say something, don’t decide to make it happen, it won’t. It’s vague, nebulous, an Idea rather than a Plan. And nothing is likely to ever come of it.

Two years ago, around March 2006, I made a Decision. Essen in 2008. Actually, I waffled a little, and said “Essen in 2008, but by 2009 would be acceptable.”

Guess what? It’s happening.

Both years.

(These days, it is more appropriately known as OMGESSEN!)

I would bet dollars to donuts that that trip would not be happening – in either year – if I had not made that decision two years ago.

Now, being more than occasionally cynical, I do not go overboard on the Power of Positive Thinking. There are plenty of things that you cannot make happen just by making a decision. If that were possible, I would have won the lottery several times already. But for things that are within our control – or almost within our control – we can make them happen by letting ourselves see them as possible.


A simple decision like the decision to travel – that’s as much commitment as it is anything else. By committing to make it happen, by writing it down and calling it a Plan, I made it happen. Not the way I expected to make it happen, but it is happening nevertheless. It is now a Reality (with lots of delicious Plans and assorted Research and Ideas associated with it).

So that’s what a Plan is to me: a commitment to try to make something happen – to do my best, to work towards it. It’s not a guarantee, because nothing is a guarantee. It might not happen, it might move or change, or I may decide that I don’t want to follow it anymore. Any of those decisions are OK, as long as they are MY plans that I am changing. I’ve even been known to negotiate.

My Plans don’t always have timeframes. Some of them are a little bit nebulous, at least in terms of the When. That’s usually a function of not seeing a way to make them happen – and maybe not trusting myself to find a way to make them happen within whatever timeframe I might set. These are the Plans that aren’t firmed up yet, and they may lie dormant for years without having that timeframe applied. Some have been around for sixteen years, but I still haven’t given up on them. They won’t happen, though, until I add the timeframe to the Plan.

Some (some might say most) may be Grand Plans – plans that require other things to fall into place before my Grand Plan can take effect. They’re OK too – and are no less genuine and Planny for it.

I like making Plans. I like bouncing Ideas around, sifting through them to find the one(s) that might make a good Plan. I like the idea that we can change things, do things differently, try something new. I’m happy to filter the Ideas, recognising that some are worse than others. I’m even happy to tinker with the small-p plans that really fit in the category of Research, emoting about how much fun they would be while secretly or not-so-secretly recognising that they may not ever happen.

But once something becomes a Plan – even if it is a Plan that has to be shelved, for a time – I have an emotional connection to it, and a commitment to making it happen. And maybe that is what distinguishes the Plan from any of Melissa’s Other Stages of Contemplation.

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Posted by on May 17, 2008 in grand plans


Obsess about something

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