To plan or not? That is my conundrum

Created in Canva by D Bartalini. All rights reserved.

Created in Canva by D Bartalini. All rights reserved.

I am a planner. I still remember, over thirty years being introduced to the Franklin planner at the publishing house where I worked. Amazing stuff and I wondered how I had gotten along without it in my life for so long! Calendars, lists, priorities, checkmarks to raise my endorphin level; all in one place – life was grand. I no longer use a paper planner/calendar but I cannot deny I still look at it fondly every now and then at my lovely pink binder and I just can’t throw it away.

This summer I had grand plans. Summer is now over. (Okay, not the season itself, but the slowed-down, husband-not-teaching part of it is over in Florida.) I had plans and lists for fun, rest, spiritual growth, completing indoor household projects, health improvements and reaching fitness goals. It sounds like tons, but it really wasn’t considering you are talking about two adult, one home from work, the other working part time.

My summer has been a fail. Nothing checked off the list except sending out invitations for a major event. This summer gave new meaning to the phrase, “man plans, God laughs.” What happened, well my husband had another health crisis and while he is doing better he is also quick to remind me that “ok” means just that and is a far cry from well or fine. But we persevere.

I was able to have some spiritual direction with my priest friend who is visiting. I asked him about St. Ignatius’ idea of detachment and how it connects with planning. Was it right to plan? Or should I wait to see where God leads me? What does it mean when plans fail? It comes down to our intention and attachment to the plan. Key to the process is asking God first what he wants of us, not making the plan first and then checking with him. If our intention is to please God, have a positive effect on someone, or just generally improve something then it is fine to plan as long as we don’t try to control the outcome beyond what is reasonable. If we fail, then we must accept that and move on, not dwelling on what could have been.

I have become more intentional in my planning. I have reordered some priorities. I am working on letting go when things don’t go my way. It is hard work on my part, but it becomes less difficult the more I practice.


Copyright 2015, Deanna Bartalini
Image created in Canva by D. Bartalini. All rights reserved.


About Author

Deanna Bartalini is a Catholic wife, mom, writer and educator. Deanna has been married for over 30 years and raised two wonderful adults. She is the Director of Faith Formation at St. Edward Catholic Church in Palm Beach, FL. She writes at, she serves as the editor of the blog and is a contributor there as well as at and contributed to our latest Catholic Mom title, A Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion. Deanna is available to lead retreats and speak at catechist and ministry events.


  1. Glad to hear your husband is “OK” and hoping that is upgraded soon!

    I just watched a great TED Talk the other night – Rory Vaden’s “How to Multiply Your Time.” Some of it is Covey for 21st century (which he pretty much says), but I loved his funnel idea, and the fact that he talks about how emotions have to play into our to-do list. If you don’t do something at work, it’ll be there tomorrow. If you don’t do something for family, the moment is gone. I can’t believe how many times I’ve used the funnel in the past couple of days when I caught myself chastising myself for not sticking to the list. It’s easy to get caught up in the Covey quadrants, which are a great planning tool, but sometimes the important things aren’t so much urgent as they are necessary…and maybe even pleasing to God.

    Great post. 🙂

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