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“The best laid plans…” (24.11.21)

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“The best laid plans..” is a phrase often used when we encounter events or circumstances not foreseen or planned for. It is generally considered to be derived from the work of Scotland’s National Poet, Robert (Rabbie) Burns.

His poem ‘To a Mouse’ contains the lines
“The best-laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!”

At the time Friday’s post (‘Clearing Out’) set sail on the Internet Sea, I had made plans for Saturday, Sunday and this coming Thursday and Friday. Each event logged into the diary and eagerly anticipated.

An all-too-rare meeting in person with longstanding friends was Saturday’s delight. Sunday was a public speaking engagement with folk I hadn’t been able to meet with due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thursday was to be my doing bit for society by donating blood. Friday was lunch with our ‘Lockdown Bubble’ relative.

Early on Friday evening, I realised “There may be trouble ahead” as I began to display symptoms of the ‘Common Cold’.  Waking on Saturday morning confirmed I’d been hit by my first cold in about 18 months. Not wishing to share my germs, I cancelled my meeting with the friends I longed to see.

On checking the “When not to donate” info from NHS Blood & Transplant, it became clear that I’d still be ineligible even if I recovered before Thursday. That appointment was postponed to a later date.

By Sunday morning my symptoms were worse so that night’s speaking engagement was the next cancellation.

With most of my diary now cleared out and with feeling better on Tuesday 23rd, I began writing this post. It was intended for the #TuesdayThoughts banner. The easing of my symptoms stalled over the last 24 hours and here we are on Wednesday completing Tuesday’s post.

There are points to be made and lessons to be learnt from this experience. Firstly, sometimes we have to ‘go with the flow’ and ‘cut our suit according to our cloth’.

When physical ailments curtail our ability to function fully, we need to give ourselves the time (and appropriate medication) to recover. Trying to plough on regardless makes everything a struggle and reduces both our ability to recover and to achieve what we’re trying to achieve. We have to acknowledge our physical limitations and work with them rather than against them.

We should remember that no matter how much time and care we put into making plans, sometimes things may still go awry. On such occasions, accepting changes need to be made re-appraising our plans will see us continue to make progress.

Any ‘deadline’, ‘goal’, or ‘target’ we set, whether it be a specific day or date or event can be a useful guide in helping us reach our aim. It can also quickly become a stick with which we beat ourselves should we fall short.

We should not be overly harsh on ourselves for not reaching any such ‘deadline’, ‘goal’, or ‘target’. We should understand deadlines, goals and targets are often self-imposed.  As such, they are ours to amend, reset or even delete if we choose to do so.