Planned Spontaneity

On my Autumn Bucket List was the item “be spontaneous”. I’ve been struggling with executing this action item.   Is planned spontaneity too much of an oxymoron?

Trying to be more spontaneous meant less structured plans. And for me, that lead to more ups & downs of feelings of satisfaction. When I have days of inactivity, I start to feel less fulfilled. In the less planning on my part, I realized I was looking for the world to provide something – and that didn’t happen.   I wrote in my journal I was Waiting For Godot, but then looked up the meaning of the play, and not sure it fits. OK, I’m not sure I get the gist of the play. Oh, Googling random stuff more often is one area I am being spontaneous, but it’s not very fulfilling.

And then there was some additional self-awareness: I’m a structure-girl and a list maker. I’m not a good solo-adventurer. I don’t have multiple hobbies to pick and choose between on a given day. Invitations from others to do things happen infrequently, and rarely on a “let’s do something today”.

So how can I be better at spontaneity? I’ve decided that I need to plan my spontaneity!

I am creating a list of things to do (tasks, topics to explore, projects to begin, pending chores, simple pleasures) to do when there is “nothing planned to do”. Including in that list will be adult playtime activities like coloring in a coloring book, doing a jig saw puzzle, or taking a walk.

So that this list is not just a random listing, I am crafting it to match my values. A values-based listing will help me continue to live the lifestyle I envision.

So now I have something to pick from when I need spontaneity.

Is planned spontaneity cheating?


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31 thoughts on “Planned Spontaneity

  1. What a swell idea!! I make a daily to-do list and always throw in some fun things I hope to have time for. If I don’t enjoy/accomplish those activities on Monday, I put them on Tuesday’s list. Shame but I have to be reminded to have fun sometimes! We are sharing another Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone post on 11.30.2018 and would love to have you join me!! Leslie @

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s terrible when we need to remind ourselves to have fun, isn’t it? When did we loose that natural ability? Rhetorical question! 🙂 I also move things forward…I’m now looking into bullet journaling and that’s one key tool – migrating tasks/activities.

      Not sure I’ve done an outside comfort zone this month… still recovering from last month’s motorcycle class! LOL


  2. I’m a structured girl, too, but when we picked up and left the States, back in 2009, to travel the world, I felt that was pretty spontaneous. It was just what I needed to shake things up, and to inspire the creativity in me, that lay hidden. Loved your post, and will share to FB.

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  3. I have had to revise my way of living since both retirement and a cancer diagnosis made planning and regular events difficult. I have learned to be more creative and less reliant on “how I think things ought to be/happen” and to make my own fun in my own time. Interestingly I am really enjoying my own company too. Denyse #MLSTL

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    1. Denyse, And you inspire others as well. You’ve inspired me to pick up my coloring book again! It’s on my list of planned spontaneity. I have other creative things on the list as well… maybe I will actually pick up some of them this winter.


  4. You made me smile Pat – I’m exactly the same! I think “I really should do something different today” then wonder and worry why I can’t think of anything, and then end up doing more of what I usually do – or stop and read a book. I like the idea of having a list of random things to choose from – now I just have to figure out what to put on the list!
    MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

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    1. Leanne – My list isn’t that long (yet) but I’ve got coloring books and jig saw puzzles on it – inspired by blogging buddies. And a few local stores I keep meaning to check out and a few things I want to explore (on-line research). Plus taking a walk, having a hot bath, writing a letter to a friend, and finding a new recipe to try (and shopping for the ingredients). You’re list might be very different, but feel free to steal & reapply!


  5. Hi Pat! I think we may be sisters from another life. I’m a list girl and planner and I don’t have many opportunities to be spontaneous. I do like your idea of planning spontaneity and who knows if we practice enough it might just come naturally? Have a great week and thanks for sharing at #MLSTL. Will be sharing on Social media. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sue. It’s always wonderful to meet other list makers! I continue to try and be more spontaneous… went to a brand new store to food shop the other day. By myself as well. OK, probably not a biggie to most folks, but a biggie for me. Practice, practice, practice!


    1. Bethany – Now I just need to use that list! Today I decided that looking at everyone’s gratitude lists on line and creating my own was the spontaneous thing to do. LOL. It’s 32 degrees outside…and nothing on the calendar. While others have big family plans for the holiday, we don’t (just the way it is)… so I will use my list this weekend and do something!


      1. We don’t do a lot for the holidays either, so the school breaks are always time that I use to do the things I’ve been wanting to do. Right now, I’m being spontaneous about getting my home clean and organized, LOL!


  6. I know exactly what you mean. I am also a planner and list maker, but I let myself veer from it when something else comes up. It may be a little unsettling at first, but in the end, it all works out. Some of your “spontaneity” may be dependent on other things, such as the weather. Taking a walk when it’s nice, working on a puzzle when it’s raining or snowing. I often let the weather dictate my spontaneity!! I’d love to try inviting a friend to lunch someday with only a couple hours notice but that would be a big stretch for me!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have one friend who is all about spontaneity and teases me about my planning, yet both times I invited her for something at the last minute, she was tied up with something else. I guess I need to keep trying. And yeah, I need to think about doing something spontaneous today… my regular Monday walk was canceled because of the cold rain (we are fair weather walkers).

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  7. Planned spontaneity. 😂 Love it. There are levels of spontaneity as I see it. On days when I have appointments or scheduled activities or a burgeoning “honey do” list, there aren’t many degrees of freedom, so spontaneity is constrained to what I call Level 0. That might be as limited as choosing something different and unusual for lunch.

    On many days when I don’t have scheduled activities, I can choose from a wide range of options, as long as I stay home…… This allows for what I call “Level 1” spontaneity. I can pursue any of a couple of dozen interests freely, but I can’t go anywhere for very long.

    Why not? Because we have two canines who don’t allow for extended roaming. For what I call Level 2 Spontaneity, planning starts to come in. If we want to head up to Columbus for the day or something similar, we have to plan ahead for vacancies at the kennel or it’s not happening. If we didn’t have the fur bearers, we could engage in Level 2 spontaneity which involves just picking up and going someplace for a day or two.

    Anything beyond that requires too much planning to be spontaneous. Say you got an instant desire to head off to New Zealand for a couple of weeks. That’s not happening today for a number of reasons, so there are limits to spontaneity.

    Just to prompt you to be more spontaneous, I’ll share with you the thinking I’ve arrived at over the last several years. “You will regret more the things you choose NOT to do than those things you choose to do. If there is something you really want to do, go for it, as long as your choice is not 1) illegal; 2) immoral; 3) unethical; or 4) financially ruinous.”

    In other words, if something really captures your fancy, it doesn’t conflict with your values and it’s not going to put you in the poorhouse, for goodness sake, get after it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG… Only you could come up with levels of spontaneity! You are of course the role model of lots of hobby options to choose from…for Level 1 spontaneity apparently. I can not even imagine Level 2 spontaneity in my life. I’m planning so many logistic things for a snow-bird adventure this winter.

      I know the quote about regretting the things you choose not to do…. recall my recent motorcycle class. 🙂 I’m going to have to steal the 4 elements (illegal, immoral, unethical, or financially ruinous) for future reference. Although the good girl inside me probably knows those elements by heart.


    1. Thanks Deb for the “you keep on doing you”. [Unfortunately I’m still looking for external validation.]

      Learning how to be spontaneous when I’m a structure-needing, list-making planner has been a challenge. Janet’s “back of the mind options on paper” thought really helped. I’ve always said, if I don’t write things down, I loose them in my mind. That’s been reality for years. Yup, that’s me! I need to be OK being me!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Left to my own devices, my spontaneity turns into spending hours on the internet and/or social media. I like your idea of having a list of ‘spontaneous’ activities to glance at when I have free time. Which I have a lot more of now that I’m retired! And I feel so guilty if I ‘waste’ time on things that do not enrich my life. My biggest challenge is thinking I ‘should’ be doing something other than what I am doing at any given time. One thing I did last week was plan a movie date with a friend – it was so much fun and for me it felt very spontaneous to be going to the movies in mid-day. Of course, when doing something with a friend (which was more fun than going alone) you have to plan ahead. We had a great time, and ate popcorn for lunch. Such a delicious indulgence all the way around!

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    1. Molly, I’ve decided that some things I used to consider time-wasters are actually enriching my life. Some are soothers, some are mental stimulation. I do try and limit social media, but when I’m in there, I try to view it as a choice…not a default.
      On the “should”… a good friend continues to tell me I “stop should-ing on yourself”. I know – letting go of societal and family expectations (the should) is so hard.

      And i just started mid-day movies with a girlfriend and we’ve really enjoyed it. We did lunch before; next time we might do the popcorn instead…but the $5 soda-pop was a shocker last time. Luckily we hit the cheap day for tickets…$5 for a first run movie on Tuesday. (yeah, the same price as the soda-pop!) Tuesday is now our go-to day for this …but we totally plan it out (weeks in advance sometimes) in order to find time that both of us have free. Still not spontaneous, but yeah, totally fun.

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  9. This post made me laugh …. finally I found a kindred spirit in the ‘overthinking’ department 😆

    Until you mentioned it, it never occurred to me that planned spontaneity was an oxymoron! But of course it is and I’ve been doing exactly that for years.

    Just for the record, any day I choose to do something I want to do when I ‘should be’ doing something else I consider a victory in the spontaneity department. In other words, fake it until you make it 🙂

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  10. It’s not cheating as long as you are enjoying life. I understand where you are coming from. I like structure. I like having things on my calendar, I also like the freedom to NOT do something that retirement allows.

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    1. Tracey, There is freedom in the Not, isn’t there! But I do like having things on the calendar. Too many fully empty days makes me unsettled! So I wrote a list this morning of “spontaneous” things to do this week! LOL.

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  11. Pat – from everything I’ve read from you, work was MUCH of your life for a very long time. Seems you had little opportunity to be spontaneous or to develop hobbies and leisure activity as an adult. So what many of us might already have in the back of our mind as ‘options’ which make us look spontaneous, really are just lists like the one you have written. I think the important thing about being spontaneous is the letting go of the need to be in total control and being able to be flexible. So making plans may be important to help you feel fulfilled because you like structure — but if you can still be open if another opportunity arises – to have fun, help someone, do something different — then you are being spontaneous. I know you didn’t ask for a lecture from me — so, in other words, NO – planned spontaneity isn’t cheating. Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Janet… You so get it and thanks for that perspective – I like the idea of “back of the mind options on paper”. I do think I can be open to things when they come up and I am trying to not feel like I need total control. And there is no lecture in there at all…just encouragement!

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  12. Hi, Pat – I don’t believe that ‘planned spontaneity’ is cheating at all. From following your posts, I believe that being more spontaneous is something that you wish to explore further. Sounds like you’ve made some important steps in that direction. Well done!

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