262. The 5 Stages Of Planning

22 April is the birthday of a dear friend of mine. To celebrate the occasion, one of her friends (you may know her as Sue, AKA the loudest little girl you’ll ever know) suggested that we throw her a surprise birthday party. The idea was that she would somehow lure her out into an eatery, and there we will be waiting for her. We will make her so touched that she will cry.

It was a good plan, though I doubted that she would cry at all. But I went along with it.

One of the key strengths of an INTP is to identify the pattern in things. It was a windy, rainy night in USJ when I was driving back and Sue was sharing the plan with us from the passenger’s seat, and as I watched the rain wash over the billboard up ahead, I came to realize that we go through the same processes in planning: for events, for birthday surprises, for marriage… Anything.

These are the 5 stages of planning:

1. Excitement

Hey guys. I have this great idea, and it goes like this and this and this.

Everybody gets excited. They’re all on board with the idea. The person who came up with the idea, in a fit of excitement, writes down the plan in full detail without sleeping that night. He/she might even come up with contingency plans. Everyone’s even more excited upon seeing the further drawn-out plan.

2. Uncertainty

But no plan is perfect. One of the wisest man I know said, “Even perfection can be improved upon”.

Most of the time, it is out of good intentions. There is, inevitably, that son of a bitch who offers a sparkling new suggestion. It might be in line with the plan. It might not. It might fall somewhere in between. This now divides the group: some are all for the idea, and some are not so sure, and think that the original idea was better.

More sons of bitches come into the fray, each with another suggestion that they think is better than the last. Soon, the plan, which had started out airtight, has now 7 vastly different ways of panning out.

3. Confusion

We switch POV to the other, non-contributing members of the group: the masses who at first got excited, and then got divided. They’re now asking which plan are they going with, and each of the people who made a suggestion thinks that their plan should be a go. Factions are formed. New leaders rise to take their places.

No one knows what the hell is going on anymore, and the deadline is closing in fast.

4. Anger

Now the original planner – the person who first came up with the idea – is pissed. Why can’t people just fall in line and listen to goddamn instructions? Why do people have to be so difficult?

The other, lesser leaders, are also angry: why can’t people see that their idea is the best?

The anger spreads down to the general masses: can someone make up their bloody mind?

As this boils over, someone takes charge of the entire project. It might be the original planner, it might be one of the lesser leaders, it might even be one of the laypeople. But someone, tired of everyone else’s shit, decides to get this plan done and buried once and for all.

5. Acceptance

Everyone’s gritting their teeth. No one’s happy.

But we go along with the plan. And chances are, it turns out better than we thought it would. Which is easy, because in the mass confusion, we all thought that the thing was just going to crumble into an embarrassing fiasco.

We talk and laugh about it after during a round of drinks. We leave it in the past, shelved into the library of memories.

And then some idiot comes up with this great new idea…


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