Leisah Woldoff

Confessions of a compulsive planner

During a recent visit with my grandmother – who just turned 91 – she shared her philosophy of life: She’s just happy to be alive and takes each day as it comes. Although I admire that attitude and realize its importance, somehow it gets lost in practice when it comes to my own life.

As 2003 wound down and January 2004 loomed closer, the more stressed I became that I didn’t yet have my appointment calendar for the new year. I was nervous to make any plans because I didn’t want to overlap any commitments.

When I finally purchased my new “Daily Planning” book, I felt a strange sense of restored calm and I prepared to start planning.

Thumbing through the crisp, white pages of the new medium-size black book is somehow comforting – a whole year full of possibilities.

Of course my first impulse when I see the white pages is to begin filling them up. I go through the calendar and scribble in birthdays of family members. Then I jot down any other commitments, such as already scheduled meetings or trips. It’s an annual routine; I’ve done it for years.

Luckily my boyfriend doesn’t seem to mind my eccentric planning habit and doesn’t flinch as I read off our weekly plans, as he also enjoys being busy with a variety of activities.

Although it should seem obvious, I’m realizing how important a common lifestyle goal is to a relationship.

For instance, I tend to fill my week with a variety of activities, and luckily, Ron enjoys that as well. A typical week for us could include seeing a play, attending a Shabbat dinner with friends, going hiking, cooking dinner while watching a “Friends” rerun and going to a bar to hear live music. I realize for some that would be considered overscheduling and downright unappealing.

I find it fascinating that there are such a variety of lifestyle preferences and I’d like to think there’s somebody for everyone.

For example, friends of mine just got married. Their priorities seem to be traveling and the outdoors. They are so well suited for each other that they’re both passionate about mountain climbing, which strikes me as a very unique passion. (And it all started with her JDate tease “How about a date?”)

My cousin and her fianc‚ (also a successful JDate match) are both avid sports fans. Their home is filled with sports memorabilia and their conversations are often peppered with what player did what in whatever game.

On the other hand, there are couples I know whose interests and hobbies are very different from one another, but their main goals are the same, which makes their relationship successful.

Obviously, a lifestyle choice is only one aspect of a relationship and can change with time (for instance, when babies arrive, priorities often change). I suppose that’s the real challenge – if the couple shifts priorities at the same time.

I guess there is no magical formula to what makes a relationship work – no master check-off list to make sure all the elements are present. Although that would make it easier, I suppose that would make it less magical.

This article first appeared in the Jan. 9, 2004 issue of Jewish News of Greater Phoenix.