Take A Chill Pill: Beware The Perils Of Overplanning

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by Lulu Lee
The Reluctant Feng Shui Practitioner

Whenever Feng Shui comes up in conversation, you always find people who say that they do not believe in, or at least do not practice Feng Shui because there is no proof of the results. This is true, yet sometimes it is nice to subscribe to pseudoscience, not to be able to measure and control, but just to simply take a chill pill. Being just shy of forty, I almost feel immature and irresponsible in using that phrase, but at a more profound level, I believe you are only qualified to use it with age and experience.

I used to be someone who tried to plan, strategise and control everything. I worried about what people thought, and how they would interpret what I say or do. I tried to strategise my every action in a bid to manage the responses that came back. I planned my holidays at the beginning of each year, gleefully double-dipping in the kiasu pot by ensuring that I not only capitalised on every long weekend presented that year, but also snagged the best flight deal for it by booking that precious cheap ticket before my would-be competitors had hit Christmas the previous year.

I was also the queen of spreadsheets when planning any holiday – a week prior to travel, the trip itinerary would go out on a silver cyber platter to all parties travelling, complete with budget (down to daily meal allowances) and emergency contact numbers such as embassies, airlines, transport companies and anything else I could think of. I loved organisation and order, and there was nothing better than spending my time closing all the apertures through which the opposite could sneak in.

And then for no reason, something changed. Probably much to the disappointment of my parents, I let go, and it became surprisingly addictive.

It started with the taste of one impromptu holiday, organised the night before I was due to fly no less, sweating over my laptop frantically trying to make bookings while simultaneously spluttering down the phone at airline call centre representatives in faraway countries who had no idea what I was talking about. And yet soon after, this became the comfortable norm. Trips were no longer booked a year in advance, and even having to think about my plans for the next quarter became bothersome, the only check and balance being the residual kiasu in me wanting to secure somewhat reasonable flight prices.

It was not just the liberation I enjoyed from not having to constantly think and plan that appealed, but I started to learn that things just have a way of happening. I have always selectively subscribed to fate, choosing to believe in it when it suits; and yet, if I look back on my newfound penchant for spontaneity, I can state without any doubt that all my last minute plans have amounted to nothing short of wonderful experiences – far better than anything I could have planned.

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Armed with confidence in the unknown, I started to apply this to more aspects of my life (where possible of course, whilst always maintaining a strategic approach to work decisions), and I must say, life is truly enjoyable. Embracing the uncertainty that waits around every corner can only be described as fun. Sometimes the surprises disappoint, sometimes they shock and sometimes they bring immense joy. But it is that journey of discovery that is irreplaceable.

A learned friend recently sent me a link to a speech about vulnerability. It was a cute moment because after we acknowledged that the points made were exactly in line of my newfound approach to life, I secretly felt very clever, without saying it out loud of course. The talk promoted having the courage to be imperfect, to let go of who you think you should be and be who you are. To fully embrace the unknown, and to be willing to do something even if there are no guarantees. It suggested that the way to live life was simply not to control and predict, and only upon achieving this can you be comfortable with your lot in life.

Of course, that talk had more deep and meaningful messages which are irrelevant to this article and/or beyond my simpleton comprehension, but the bottom line is that the more I listen to it, the more I love it. Not to the extent that I will quit my job tomorrow and embrace the vulnerability of not knowing whether I will live the rest of my life jobless on a park bench, but more that it makes so much sense as a general approach to life.

When you stop fearing, you start enjoying. When you stop controlling, you stop expecting an outcome. When you stop measuring, there is no disappointment.

So for those who say they do not bother with Feng Shui, I ask – what is the harm? Feng Shui is simply a Chinese philosophical system of harmonising with your environment, practised to encourage good fortune in the form of health, career and your love life. Of course, the correlation between your efforts and the results can never be confirmed. But does it matter? I say don’t bother to look for the return on investment. Just give fate the best chance, and then sit back and enjoy the journey.