I have slowly come to the theory that other people plan (and make plans, and have plans, and do planning, and so on) in ways that (quantitatively and perhaps even qualitatively) I don’t.
I tend to operate by occasionally looking around to see where I am (in the broad sense), and then doing whatever seems appropriate.
Other people (some? many? most?) seem to tend to have a sort of prediction, in more or less fine detail, of what is going to happen in the next N minutes (for N anywhere from smallish to quite largish), and put quite a bit of mental effort into polishing that prediction, and comparing it to what is actually happening, or what seems likely to happen, or what they would like to happen, and so on.
Or perhaps the prediction is what they would like to happen (from among the most plausible alternatives?), and they compare it to what is likely to happen? I’m not clear on the details.
At one level this seems like a lot of effort, to me, given how hard it is to predict stuff. We (the culture that the planners and I share) have sayings about this; the “gang aft agley” one, and “life is what happens when you’re making other plans”, and so on. Given that we know it doesn’t work, and that it takes effort, well…
On the other hand I’m sure that at some level I do it, too, at least in that “doing whatever seems appropriate” probably is somewhat driven by doing what seems most likely to lead to desirable future situations, and that might be seen as a kind of prediction.
Also there are some times when there is a complicated multi-step process sort of thing, and I have to like remember all of the steps in order to get to some desirable end through the process. When that happens, I tend to write the list down, because otherwise I will forget. Sometimes I forget anyway.
It’s certainly easier to fit the unplanned approach into the “this present instant is all that exists” idea that I’m working with. Since this present instant is all that exists, all that one can do is notice the present instant, and do something based on it. But if one is a planner, many of the things that exist in this present instant, and that one can be aware of (and even identify with, which is where I might claim some of the trouble arises), are plans; plans as ideas, as mental constructs, as expectations and desires and even fears, as worries. And then one does things based not only on what is true in the actual world right now, but also based on what one imagines or expects or hopes or fears is true, or might (or might not) become true.
Not that I don’t do that. It would be (what?) overly dramatic of me to claim that what I do is never driven by hopes or fears or expectations about the present or future. It’s pretty hard to describe anything significant that anyone does without some sort of reference to those things, at least indirectly.
So it’s either that I’m just more or less ignorant of my own plans and expectations and hopes and fears (where “I” here means the conscious entity that currently has control of my typing), or it’s that I actually have fewer of those things and/or am less impacted (by which I mean either effected or affected, I can never remember) by them. Or, quite plausibly, both.
I do think about what’s likely to happen in the not-too-distant (or even in the distant) future, but generally it’s more like a daydream than a plan. Speculative fiction, so to speak.
And that’s perhaps why I can occasionally be found, say, driving in entirely in the wrong direction in the morning (toward the place I worked for the 33 years before 2013, say), or standing on the platform at the 72nd Street C station, not entirely sure how I got there or exactly where I ought to be going next. But enjoying the flow of cars or faces going past, and the light on the boats in the river.
This is coming out sort of “look how admirably spontaneous and adorably absent-minded I am because of my Buddha-like wisdom”, I realize. This was not my initial intent! :) There are probably all various advantages to making and having and following plans, and I probably do it even more or less just as much as anyone else.
But sometimes it doesn’t feel that way!
(Then there are these “beliefs” that people apparently “have”… hee hee)