Monday, March 22, 2010

The planning horizon

In an average year we might have two or three trips planned, perhaps an overnight jaunt to a concert, a weekend getaway at the beach, or a trip to a con. This year has been unusual in that, after a trip in December, we've already had one to San Diego, Siobhan has one to Chicago soon, we have a trip to the UK in the summer, a weekend in the autumn for our vow renewal, and a con not long after that; plus Siobhan will probably have another knit camp, and it wouldn't surprise me if we end up adding a weekend trip or two in the mix somewhere to go to a concert or something.

Any one of those upcoming trips is bubbling around in my head, and plans are being made in a vague sense on each of them. Decisions are being narrowed down, ideas are being bandied about, possibilities are being explored. We may actually even make reservations or decisions. And one thing that definitely happens way in advance is budgeting.

However, when it comes to firming up plans, I find that I make a sort of transition in my process where I switch from having a bunch of pieces of plans floating around, each being pursued on its own, to where plans are being lined up and put into position relative to one another -- on dates and times, or into lists, or into sequences of prerequesites and successors. And that transition just doesn't happen until a trip is the next trip. I only make my planning structured on one trip at a time, so even if I'm having to think a lot about the other trips -- like right now we're talking a fair bit about the vow renewal this October -- I can't see the whole of its questions when there's another trip before it.

Or at least I don't. I probably could if I forced myself to. But I only just realized this year how my mind keeps the next big event at the horizon, so it doesn't deal with anything over the horizon except piecemeal.

It's only the fullness of this year's calendar that's made this effect so plain to me. San Diego planning had been precluding thinking much about the other trips, for instance. I don't think Siobhan's Chicago trip is going to create a horizon, though, since all I have to do is drop her off at the airport, live like a bachelor for a few days, and then pick her up at the airport.

Of course, right now, I'm too tired and worn out from being injured and busy (with the first greatly exacerbating the second) to even be thinking too much about the next trip, the UK trip. But that's going to start crystallizing in my head soon, I'm sure.

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