Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Zoom Out, Zoom In

When it comes to major life events, I'm a clear-one-hurdle-at-a-time kind of girl. My annual writing conference, my daughter's last day of high school, her prom and her graduation came in quick succession, leaving me a little breathless. The only way I could manage them was to take one event at a time, subdividing (writing conference/zip home for prom pictures/back to writing conference) only when absolutely necessary.

This is the kind of plan that sounds good in theory, but has some real time flaws. I envy those who can pull off graduation parties the day (or weekend) after graduation; this is not a skill I possess. There are simply too many details involved in both, and the stress of fitting all the pieces together would suck all the joy out of the celebrations and leave me a huddled, puddling mess.

I am a global thinker. I love big-picture planning. Details drive me crazy, and the fear of missing an important one causes me to procrastinate feverishly.

This leads me to the real time flaws, like the timing of my daughter's graduation announcements. I argued that they were announcing a graduation we might not have tickets for (tickets were theoretically limitless for an outdoor ceremony and restricted if we ended up indoors), and should arrive close to the date of her graduation. My husband, the detail-oriented thinker, provided counterarguments.

The flaw in my plan was that those announcements also carried an invitation to her party -- ten days after her graduation -- effectively giving people less than two weeks notice for the party. My clear-one-hurdle-at-a-time approach ensured that regrets, perhaps more numerous than if the announcements had been mailed out earlier, would indeed be a fact of life, but I figured it would all work out. Our party space, too, was limited, and while I'd miss the friends who could not attend, with my plan, I stressed less about overfilling the room. (As it turns out, optimism is part of big-picture thinking, too.)

I don't remember the source behind my initial introduction to global vs. detail-oriented thinking; such things weren't important to me then. I do know that the initial assessment surprised me a little, and it took some real-world events (and teasing from my colleagues) to get me to the point where I nodded knowingly, accepting this style, which involves equal parts planning and procrastination.

Now, I embrace my globalness, in part because I've learned the strategies I need to successfully embrace it, just as I embrace my I need to see it/drop and run styles. I, too, can shake my head and laugh at my big-picture focus -- and even defend it -- at least most of the time. I know it's part of what makes me event-avoidant, but I'm also able to tackle events head-on when necessary, though I need to structure them in specific ways.

More on that tomorrow.

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