Wednesday, 22 July 2015

To Plan OR Not to Plan?

After being extremely busy at work for past months, it’s finally time for a deserved break away from work this week. Thanks to also Hari Raya holiday, I am able to have a 10-day long stay home/Singapore vacation. Frankly, I cannot remember when was the last I took a long leave not to have overseas tour.

In the past, I will think that it is a waste to take leave not to have an overseas tour. And taking leave by staying in Singapore also means working at home too, sometimes. 

Now I think differently. Taking leave is an equivalent of “recharging” of battery. Forget entirely about work during this recharge period, focus on doing the things you like and being with the people you enjoy with.

The question arises. To Plan or Not to Plan for this 10-days break?

Definition of Planning

Before we dive into this topic, let us explore the formal definition of “planning”. According to Wikipedia,

“Planning (also called forethought) is the process of thinking about and organizing the activitiess required to achieve a desired goal. It involves the creation and maintenance of a plan, such as psychological aspects that require conceptual skills. There are even a couple of tests to measure someone’s capability of planning well. As such, planning is a fundamental property of intelligent behavior.”

Equally important to planning is the word “Forecasting”, commonly used also in the investment world. Let us see what the difference between both terms.
  • Planning predicts what the future should look like for multiple scenarios.
  • Forecasting can be described as predicting what the future will look like.

To Plan or Not to Plan?

Now back to the question of plan or not for my stay in SG vacation. Looking at the definition of “Planning” and making fundamental re-arrangements as follows.

1) Intelligent behaviour  2) Think  3) Goal 4) Conceptual 5) Organise

So Planning is an intelligent behaviour. Being an organise person, and since I love to be intelligent, then I better plan. LOL.

Don’t Plan at All
Anyhow, I have to agree that sometimes, the most fun things happen in life when you do not plan at all and enjoy the unexpected surprises.

But maybe not appropriate for me this time, since the main objective of this short break is NOT themed “adventurous” or “doing nothing”! Again it relates to your primary aim and how many people are involved.

Ask yourself the below two questions underlined!

What is My Goal?
Since I am traveling due to work for most of the time in the last few months, my primary goal for this week is to :

1) Have leisure time with my wife, just the two of us 
2) Spend time with kids, relatives and friends 
3) Have my own time to do the things I like

Who is Involves?
If it just involves myself, then planning is of lesser significance, since I can decide whatever I want to do, even on the day itself without being responsible to anyone.

“I like to walk, I walk… I like to sit…I sit, I like to run, I run.”

But it’s not the case for me! I have my family, relatives and friends to contend with.

This is when planning is usually more relevant and important when the impact is bigger and more people are involved.

So in this case, I need to plan for this break.

Simple Plan

A good plan is a simple plan!

Always relate back to the fundamental goal. We do not want to achieve too many things a day.

Plan not more than 3 main “things of satisfaction” for a day.

If my priority is time with my wife, focus on time with my wife and ignore on all the fanciful additions to that day.

For e.g. a simple movie and dinner will just do very well at a relaxed pace. DO NOT EVER RUSH, and try to squeeze as many things as possible in that day. It will backfire because you will be tired. You are not in a competition to see who can finish the most number of different things in a day.

If it is time with kids, a swim or jog or walk in the park together with them more than enough. You probably do not even need to bring them to the most sophisticated water theme park, because your ultimate objective is to spend time with them. Unless your aim is you want your kids to experience the “new theme park” then it is different.

Furthermore, if it is just 2 to 3 things to achieve in a day, it is definitely easier to attain to provide you a good sense of satisfaction.

Remember: “Focus, Prioritise and Keep it simple.”

Don't Over Plan  

Do not over-plan such as drafting a detail time table with hourly time slots for what I am going to do for each day throughout the week.

It is going to be stressful to meet all targets, since things can change to disrupt the schedules. The weather, your health, the traffic etc all can be unpredictable. It will also be too time consuming to set up an excel spreadsheet to include all the time slots too. It is NOT Necessary Really!.

Similarly as Parents, we should not give our kids a rigid and compact time-table to adhere or one enrichment class after another during weekends or holidays. It will not do your kids any good.

Backup Plan – It is in the Mind

Some people says, it is important to have a backup plan. I totally agree. But backup plan is only as useful as a positive mind.

For instance, you have planned for an Outdoor Sentosa Island getaway. Unfortunately it rains before you left your house.  Or maybe even worst, the moment you reach Sentosa, it started to rain. Then the traffic starts to get massively heavy, your kids start to whine….moods turn bad and you start blaming your partner that he or she should have check the weather earlier, or should have had backup plan that if it rains we should go to another indoor escapade immediately. You were fuming that everything just goes wrong.

In most cases, whatever backup plans you have is not going to help if it is the mind is controlling all the emotions.

If you have a positive mind, you will think “so what if it rains? As long as the family is together!” or “this is even more fun as we brave the rain like never before” or “whole family starts singing in the car during a traffic jam!”

My Simple & Focus Plan 

Ok, enough of long-windedness, below is my plan for the week.

Fri (Hari Raya) – Family Eat Eat Eat
- Dim sum breakfast for my whole family. Mother in law love dim sum. She had been working hard while the helper is not around.
- Shopping for my kids’ stuffs
- Steamboat dinner at home! 

Sat – Relatives Gathering
- Housework
- Bring mum, aunties, cousins, and family for Zi Char dinner. Then drop by my aunt place.

Sun – Time for Inner Peace
- Wife and kids go church, while I go for a haircut. 
- Family jogging to nearby park
- Family dinner nearby

Mon – Romantic Time for Me and Wife
- Movie time. Me and wife only.
- Catch up with my ex-boss - a retiree who is active in church work. Wife is joining. 
- Japanese dinner with wife

Tue – Time for Myself and Friends
- Wife working. Time alone for myself to relax.
- Catch up with my ex-boss and his son.

Wed – Family Adventure
- River Safari! 

Thu – Nostalgic Hobbies for Me & Wife
- Shopping

Fri – Relax Mind and Body
- Massage session with wife 

Sat – No plans yet

Sun - Go to airport to fetch our helper

For flexibility sake, in between daily schedules, I will slot in the below-mentioned activities, as and when I like, or as and when time permits.  

- Exercising (gym, swim or jog)
- Reading & Coffee 
- Blogging 
- Listening to music
- Talking to my kids
- Dinner, groceries and “Walk Walk” at nearby mall

Rolf’s Summary

So to plan or not, in my opinion, we can probably consider:
  • What are our objectives?
  • Who are involved?
  • Simple plan – focus on less than 3 main things daily that can bring satisfaction
  • Positive mind is most important
  • Have flexibility in the schedules

Essentially, this post is also for us to reflect if sometimes our investments, career or even in our life, did we actually over plan so much that we are forgetting what our fundamental objectives or priorities are.

Below some pictures from River Safari. 


  1. Hi Rolf,

    Sounds like a good plan for me :) Usually me and wife have a lot of impromptu arrangements, but I think that will be harder once we have kids. It'll take a whole village to raise a kid, so they say, haha

    Enjoy your well deserved break!

    1. Hi LP,

      Haha ... a village to raise a kid. Not really lar, it's not that scary. Singapore really need more local bred children.

      Since u r financial savvy, I will use another way to encourage u on children.

      For every effort u invested to raise a kid, the return is (I guaranteed) more than what u r going to get from ur best stock performer.

      Impromptu arrangements are the best! I love it and use to have it already for many years. But then again it's more difficult now when more people are involved. It just different stages of life.

  2. Hi Rolf

    Looks like you had an enjoyable family time today in river safari. Im sure the kids are all having fun and tired.

    Im also currently thinking how to utilize my leftover leave for the year. I know its still early days but I better start planning because the first half of the year was packed. Its time to wind up heading to national day and christmas.

    1. Hi B,

      Yes, it's relaxing for the mind. Considering Sg is so warm, I like River Safari better than Zoo bcos of more shelters and ac areas. Haha. Nah.. Zoo's animals are more interesting.

      Hope you can have a wonderful break if not overseas but in SG. Ur family deserves it. Better to spend here more to inject our economy also. haha..

      If ur boss object to the leave, just tell him that u really need this so as to perform better when u r back (even when u r not!).

  3. Hi Rolf

    Good idea to have an unplanned plan, or a plan with no plan but a simple plan...Wait, am I confused? :)

    Positive mind indeed is important.

    So nice to see you enjoying your family time. Cheers!

    1. Hi FD,

      U r crystal clear to come up with a confused statement! :-)

      I enjoy simple and yet sophisticated somehow.

      Ya... If mind not positive, then better have a positive balance sheet.. Haha

      Thanks and I hope you can enjoy some wonderful time during the coming National Holiday break too!

      Stay Frugal, Fun and Fabulous!

  4. We can ask Jim Rogers at his next public seminar what is his greatest investment return that brings him great joy. LOL!

    1. Renowned investment guru Jim Rogers has said it before and he will say it again: His best investments are his two daughters, Hilton Augusta and Beeland Anderson.

      "You can ask me in 30 years if it's a good investment but so far it's the best investment I've ever made.

      "They make me very happy and if you can find anything makes you happy, it's priceless. I don't know of many things like that.

      "I could buy a diamond or stock but it wouldn't make me happy all day long, every day."

      Mr Rogers says his daughters, who are 12 and seven, have taught him more than any other investment could have, about life, people and even his parents.

  5. This post is special one for the students.By reading best research paper reviews they will know the importance of plan in the life and I am sure that they will also plan some small goals for success in the life.