Is it Better to Plan or Be Spontaneous?

I must say first that I did not plan to write this post. It is a spontaneous idea that I had upon replying to a comment on my post The Child Effect.

The Child Effect post highlighted the spontaneous actions of children to respond to needy people. The post described a very young girl donating her recharge card for her mobile phone to a charity serving premature babies. The rippling effect of her spontaneous action prompted people to donate resulting in the collection of millions of pounds.

Cyndi Wilkins commented by sharing the story of her daughter. Cyndi wrote “This story reminds me of my daughter…She was very young when that terrible tsunami devastated Sri Lanka…While we were watching the news story on television, she ran to her room and grabbed her piggy bank, and brought it to us. She said she wanted to help all those people by giving them all her money. We shared the story with friends and they were so moved they all donated too. Many of their businesses made matching donations as well…What a difference one little girl and her pink piggy bank can make”.

I replied to Cyndi “It is amazing what children can achieve without planning. Doing well for the sake of it does indeed have a rippling effect.

I am wondering how much spontaneity may replace plan.”

The charity for premature children planned its activities and yet collected a small amount of donations. The children managed in both stories to move hearts so that huge donations resulted.

Do we tend with planning to discharge hearts from their emotions? Do employees lose their passion with over-planning?

We keep telling people to enjoy the moment. This contradicts being spontaneous and living the NOW. Planning is for the future and not for the NOW.

Living for the NOW means being spontaneous, flexible, agile, and creative. The future is getting more and more unpredictable and many plans can go wrong if can.

Murphy’s Law applies to planning as well. Plans can go wrong if can. This failed planning fills people with anxiety and deprives them of enjoying the NOW.

In spite, all of the above planning can be very useful in showing us where plans deviated. We have an opportunity to learn from this deviation. Planners are more efficient in anticipating future risks and finding ways to thwart them.

In activities that require emotional charging of people, I tend to say that spontaneity is the way to go.

We need to plan but also not over-planning to drain our spontaneity and associated fun. I say that some planning plus spontaneity is the way to go.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts.


Ali Anani
Ali Anani
My name is Ali Anani. I hold a Ph.D. from the University of East Anglia (UK, 1972) Since the early nineties I switched my interests to publish posts and presentations and e-books on different social media platforms.

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  1. The common factor for me in the two stories you shared, Ali, was that donors probably are touched by the selflessness of the children. They intuitively catch that the child doesn’t have a plan to better something for themselves – it is all about the cause.

    This is the contrast to all the good work that is done to support college applications, get positive press, gain access to important people, get a tax deduction… all the other thought driven deeds that don’t light a fire because intent is mixed.

    Does that answer whether spontaneity or planning is better? No, because context is everything. But it does ask the question if our “third eye” can pick up intent and if so, that could be why so many plans strand: It is all about feathers in somebody’s hat – not about what that somebody says it is about.

    • I really enjoyed reading your comment, Charlotte.

      You raise two important issues:

      The first one is the need to improve our understanding of what I call now based on your comment “intuitional intent”. The cause is everything and its them and “I”. Selfishness doesn’t exist. This is what brings trust. I am going to refer to your comment and to this thought in particular.

      The second thought is Intent and planning. I need to search this to find to what extent this idea has been researched.

  2. There is a time and a season to plan.
    There is a time and a season for spontaneity

    My first response dear Professor is “think BIG” .. plan LONG
    It has been said that “if you fail to plan .. you plan to fail”
    In truth: in many earthly things we have little if any control.

    Wisdom plans for the future to the degree that is possible
    We should look as far ahead as possible
    Wisdom develops an eternal perspective

    Where will one spend eternity?
    God has a plan for this.
    A plan that is filled with “Good News”
    .. for “whosoever believes” ..

    • Being an established poet my spiritual mentor Fay VietmeierI am amazed that you call for “plan Long”.
      When you write poetry do you have a plan? Or, ideas just flow?

      God has his plans because he has control but what control do we have on the uncertain environment to plan for long?

      I love challenging comments because they make me think. Yours is one. I have yet to read your comment more than once to “read your mind”.

  3. Love this Ali Anani…And thank you for the mention. I certainly believe in planning for the future, but not getting caught up in the expectations of the ‘now.’ Things change, priorities shift, and we must be resilient enough to roll with punches. Life can be hard, but our children teach us to live ‘in the moment’ and express our joy more frequently…Jump in that puddle, kiss a frog once in a while, (you know you all have at one time or another;-) And for Pete’s sake, don’t sweat the small stuff… In the end we discover, it’s ALL small stuff! Thank you for sharing my story…Much love to you!

    • So true and realistic you are, Cyndi. I find your comment very honest in reflecting my own thoughts. Loved reading this from your splendid comment “but not getting caught up in the expectations of the ‘now.”. This is so important to understand and abide by. Expectations can easily draw out the joy of the moment. Interestingly, my share of this post on LinkedIn has so far 87 comments and yet you are the first one to highlight this issue.

  4. It’s the perfect combination of both Ali Anani, PhD.

    The goal or intention does not change; the plan will. It’s called organized planning.

    When we want something, one must only know the first two steps to get in action which sources motivation.

    The blend comes in being open to the changes which will always come.

    If the steps to the end are predetermined, the natural changes will not occur, we lose motivation, and quit.

    You my friend have stepped into one of the biggest mysteries of sustained success.

    “We need to plan but also not over-planning to drain our spontaneity and associated fun.”


    • This is a splendid comment dear Leslie (Thomas) Flowers.

      You nailed it thoroughly with your writing “,,,organized planning.
      When we want something, one must only know the first two steps to get in action which sources motivation.”

      Love the way you think. Only plan for the first steps to get motivated. This rings many bells of wisdom and is a great introduction to the discussions.

      The idea of this post was spontaneous and I got energized to write it. I then figured out what I wanted to cover. I believe even planning for writing a post is the same. Writing too much planning takes the flow out and the passion dries up

  5. Great read Ali!
    Totally agree it is both with personal discretion. I also believe that “Living for the NOW means being spontaneous, flexible, agile, and creative.” – is also enjoying the moment. The over planning comes when you are not enjoying the moment and stay anyway for the sake of the plan. A little of both seems to always work for me.

    • Thank you Caeolyn
      I fully support your comment and endorse your conclusion. Yes, we are in agreement, We need planning but not to the extent of depriving us of the joy of the moment and losing our joy and creativity.