My husband and I just spent the better part of our afternoon researching an upcoming trip we’re planning for Norway later this year.
I currently have about 42 different tabs open on two different Google Chrome browser windows, full of Airbnbs and “Top Things to Do in Norway” and flight schedules and train schedules. We haven’t actually booked anything yet. But that’s not really the point. This is all part of the process. You might think this is a little bit overwhelming. But I think that planning together is a hugely important part of any partnership.
In fact, I’m starting to believe that planning fun things together is just as important as actually doing those fun things.
I imagine this is probably similar to how we think about planning for big goals in our lives. We know, for instance, that there’s already a feel-good vibe you get just from telling people about your goals. So much so, in fact, that announcing your goals or intentions to people may actually de-motivate you from achieving them. I imagine planning for a trip is similar.
Planning for a new experience unlocks quite a few areas of your brain, including:
- Imagination — To consider new possibilities and stretch your those fantastical thinking muscles we so rarely use
(“Can you imagine what it’ll be like to be in a place where it never gets dark?”)
- Creativity — To combine ideas together in new ways and craft a brand new trip or itinerary
(“What if we…Fish for our own dinner? Take a long train ride from one city to another? Stay in a local cabin along the water? Befriend the locals?”)
- Problem Solving — To overcome certain problems when you enact constraints
(“Hmmm…how can we get from here to there? How can we do this…but more cheaply?)
- Anticipation — To think ahead to something exciting as a backburner task leading up to the adventures
(“Oooh, it’s going to be chilly. Maybe I should make sure we both have wool socks for hiking.”
- Actualization — To actually see the end result of your planning IRL one day
(“Whoa. This is so much cooler than on the Internet.”)
It’s easy to unlock these feelings when you plan for something major, like a trip. But I bet you can do this in smaller ways too, such as setting up a routine around who picks restaurants for date night that month. Or even around redecorating a room of your home. If you’re planning to get a new pet, the process of deliberating on where and when and which one to adopt is a process in itself. And for all of my expectant friends out there, the ritualized way that we’ve been trained to prepare for new babies at home is in itself a pretty sneaky way to “up” the excitement, hype, and commitment for when your little one actually arrives.
For me, it helps to know I have something to look forward to at any point, even if it’s 6 or 9 months away. Throughout the months leading up to “that thing,” I can sit and let my mind wander off to a fantasy-land world where my husband and I are enjoying something new together. And in moments where things feel a little tough or overwhelming at work, planning for any longer break or change of pace can be a really healthy mental exercise.
It’s still February, so it’s early enough this year to set one or two big-picture goals to hit for you and whatever friendship, partnership, or other team you’re a part of. I bet it’ll make your year even better to know you can hit them by December. And maybe it’ll strengthen your relationships along the way, too.