What is the difference between worrying and planning? When we worry, we are fretting about a situation, a circumstance, something which troubles us. Worry, by itself, accomplishes nothing positive. But planning is not the same as worrying. Planning is taking into account problems which might arise, then coming up with a strategy for dealing with either the problem or the contingency of a problem.
When we are planning, we are taking into account matters that may need our attention, and creating a road map for dealing with them. Simply put, worrying is fine as long as it leads to rational planning. In that sense, the admonition against worrying is sometimes misplaced. It doesn't mean one should avoid thinking about or anticipating problems.
Putting on a seatbelt reveals worrying about something which may never happen, but planning for the eventually just in case. Besides the possibility of getting a traffic ticket for failing to wear a seatbelt, the bigger concern is the protection we have when using it. Forty five years ago, the United States Air Force convinced me that vehicle seatbelts greatly enhance one's safety in a car or truck. Since then, I've been a staunch advocate of their use. They save lives and they save untold numbers from more serious injury. Worrying about the dangers of vehicle travel without doing anything about it is wasted time. Altering our behaviors, such as always wearing seatbelts, is planning.
When we hear from various experts and major media about things we can do to help our health, we listen closely, because we want to know what we might be doing to help or hurt our life span. We learn that regular exercise is a key. We learn that getting plenty of quality rest is a key. So is minimizing stress, avoiding toxic materials and limiting our intake of certain items, whether they be sugar, grain, alcohol, or some other substance.
My mother was a big advocate of making a plan. She believed that if you have a problem, think about it and make a plan. She used to mimic the Barney Fife character played by Don Knotts on The Andy Griffin Show of the 1960s: "that's the plan, Andy!" My niece runs a family business and does a great job of making plans which require steps to achieve a given goal. "Make a plan - work the plan," we like to say.
There is a subtle line between worrying and planning. It's important to see it, and by seeing it, to help ourselves better deal with problems which inevitably arise. After that problem arises, studying options and coming up with a plan is a good, solid first step in turning worry into a useful plan.
© 2014, Jim “Pappy” Moore,
All Rights Reserved.
Jim “Pappy” Moore is a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his home. firstname.lastname@example.org