Derek Sivers

The joy and strategic wisdom of ignoring plans

2019-10-05

I took my 7-year-old to London today. I made two plans: if it rains, we go to a museum, if not, we go to the zoo.

But when the train arrived in London, he said he didn’t really want to do either one. So we just walked with no plans.

We immediately ran across some random building with a big art installation on its side. There was nobody around. We played there for a long time.

At each intersection, we just went whichever way looked most interesting. He lept around park benches with some kids from Croatia, playing tickle games. He found a huge cardboard box in the trash, and kept it around him like a turtle shell, as we walked through the city. He found a discarded paint brush and twirled it around his fingers for the rest of the day.

We were in front of the theater with the musical “Wicked”, just as they were about to begin. We bought last-minute tickets, 8th row center, and watched the show. He held hands with a girl sitting next to him.

I’m so glad we didn’t follow any plans today. We make plans to make the most of our time — but thinking again about that idea, that doesn’t make sense, does it? Unless we’re actually shut out of great things for lack of planning, then following no plans is the ideal way to make the best of each moment. Every moment provides new information, which changes the situation. Then we can act on what we know now, instead of what we previously predicted.

I don’t regret having plans, because sometimes following the plan is the best choice. So I guess the lesson is to make plans, but feel free to ignore them — to see them as an option, not a requirement.

After eight hours of walking, we took a night train home. Tucking him into bed, I asked what was his favorite part.

“The cardboard box.”