I spent the last week looking at my calendar and trying to decide who I was going to be able to spend time with this month, and where exactly I would be fitting those “dates” in. At first, making four (4) dates with friends during the month, AND planning to host a dinner or two (2) seemed like a lot to try and squeeze in. I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to swing it and keep all our other daily commitments.

But, as I waded through my calendar and mentally ran through the list of people I really wanted to see, a key aspect of why I often found myself not “having time” to see people became abundantly clear.

I wait too long to make plans.

I wait until I actually have the free-time, guaranteed – nothing else is going to come up that I need to do. And THEN I make plans. This means that more often than not I am touching base with my friends the day before or even the day I suddenly have some free time, or on a Friday afternoon when I realize my Saturday/Sunday evening is going to be open.

I bet you can guess what inevitably happens……..exactly……. they already have plans! You would think this would send me a clear message that I’m outside the norm when it comes to making plans with other people, especially when those people also have full time jobs, children, activities and hectic schedules of their own to manage. But I never really clued in that everyone else seemed to be making plans well ahead of time, and I just kept on winging it last minute style.

I’m convinced my aversion to makings social plans stems from years of being on call for work and having to travel out of town on short notice. This often ended with me having to cancel or drop out of events with people, which always left me feeling very guilty. Failing to fulfill commitments does NOT jive with my personality (it came up led and clear on my Birkman Assessment).

So like one of Pavlovian’s dogs, it appears I unconsciously conditioned myself to avoid making commitment’s until the odd’s were extremely likely I would be able attend. I have still ended up having to cancel on the occasional event, but this practice did, in hindsight, greatly reduce my overall reneging of commitments.

While my job still requires me to be available on call under normal circumstances, being pregnant removes me from the call out rotation or the requirement for travel. And of course when I am on maternity leave, I won’t have to worry about any of that for an ENTIRE YEAR! I still haven’t quite adjusted to the idea that my phone isn’t going to ring at all hours of the night to deal with some emergency situation, nor will I need to start packing my luggage for an unknown period of time.

Clearly, my social habits haven’t adjusted to my new found freedom, I have after all been pregnant for eight (8) months now! This realization that I could make plans well in advance, for which it was very unlikely I would have to cancel was fantastic! (Unless of course baby decided to make an early arrival, but I think my friends would all be very understanding of that excuse). With this new discovery, I may have gone a little overboard, but when it hit me I turned into a texting machine.

By prioritizing my social commitments and planning ahead, I was able to be more selective about who I was going to spend my time with and when. And, it allowed for some flexibility in planning which translated to way more people being available to get together! This little aha moment also followed a cardinal rule of establishing habits that stick, SCHEDULE IT IN. Which basically makes the assumption that if it’s important, one should make room in their calendar and assign it it’s rightful spot.

I evaluated each of my weeks in February, saw where I could easily schedule in some social time, and then made a mental list of all the people I really wanted a chance to see before the baby arrived.

So far I’ve had lunch with my sister, and a nice pre-valentines dinner out with my husband (I hate celebrating on Valentines day and dealing with reservations)!

This week I have scheduled dinner with my parents, and am hosting a dinner with friends of ours.

Next week I have a lunch date with a girlfriend I haven’t seen since well before Christmas, AND a coffee date with two girlfriends that I used to work with who I haven’t seen in a few months.

The week after I made dinner plans for myself and my husband with another couple that we haven’t had a chance to hang out with in quite some time! And I’m still in the process of planning another date with two of my closest girlfriends around the last week of February.

So without even really trying I swung four (4) dates where I get to catch up with six (6) of my girlfriends, time with two (2) different couple friends, one of which where I get to indulge in an activity I enjoy, cooking the dinner! And the added bonus of a date night with my husband and time with my family. All of these dates I intentionally structure in small, intimate environments, rather than big group settings! The “needs” side of my individual relationship category is definitely going to be met in full this month!

If you had asked me last week if I would have time to individually see all these people this month, I would have said absolutely not; but, by scheduling these times in before my schedule filled up with all the other day to day stuff, these social events are now a priority in my schedule. Everything else is just being scheduled around these plans.

Now I have one (1) or two (2) fun social outings to look forward to each week of this month, no commitments for large group events that I know I won’t enjoy, AND I won’t find myself regretting my failure to plan ahead!

Lesson learned: make plans, and schedule in the things that are important.