A flexible approach to planning

We can sometimes focus too closely on following a particular plan while a more flexible moment-to-moment approach can be more effective and help to get more done.

It wasn’t impossible to see a whole show on this scale, but it was difficult. It took work. You had to be systematic, go aisle by aisle, moving up the hall in a zigzag, giving every stand some time but not so much time that it diminished the time given to others. That used to be my approach, but I found that route planning and time management occupied more of my thoughts that the content of the show itself. I was lost in the game of trying to see every stand, note every new product and expose myself to every scrap of stimuli – the show as a whole left only a shallow track in my memory. In being systematic, I saw only my own system. Completism was blindness; it yielded only a partial view.

So I threw away my diligent systems and timetables and started to truly explore. Today was typical of my current method of not having a method – I would strike out into the centre of the hall, ignoring all pleas and distractions, and from there walk without direction. I would try to drift, to allow myself to be carried by the current and eddies of the hall, thinking only in the moment, watching and following the people around me. Beyond that, I tried to think as little as possible about my aims and as much as possible about what was in front of me at any given time. I would give myself to the experience.

Will Wiles. The Way Inn.

‘Present-moment awareness is the process of bringing flexible and deliberate attention to one’s experience as it happens. Clients are encouraged to maintain attention on experiences in the moment and to dispassionately observe these experiences, rather than falling into content about events of the past or fears and expectations about the future. Through this process, ACT promotes ongoing nonjudgmental contact with both psychological and environmental events as they occur, strengthening more direct and immediate interaction with experience and undermining the effects of language. The goal is for clients to experience the world more directly so that their behavior is more flexible and consistent with the values they hold.

Jill A. Stoddard and Niloofar Afari. The Big Book of ACT Metaphors: A Practitioner’s Guide to Experiential Exercises & Metaphors in Acceptance & Commitment Therapy

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