Back in the early nineties, I worked in a large factory producing cars for NUMMI (New United Motors Manufacturing Inc.), a joint venture of Toyota and General Motors. The factory produced Toyota Tacoma trucks and GM/Toyota sedans on different production lines. We worked hard, turning out hundreds of cars a day. This high rate was no accident, and it wasn't just a matter of how hard the men and women on the production lines worked. Assembling complex machines on a production line requires a well thought out and well executed plan. Every aspect of the production process is planned in advance, from the availability of parts to the scheduling of workers, and this planning enables all the elements that go into producing a car to come together at the right time and allow the process to move forward.

Modern life is a whirlwind of priorities, obstacles, and events that defy prediction. It's certainly as complex as the whirring machinery and bustle of activity that made up a workday at NUMMI. With all the chaos that accompanies modern life, it's astonishing how many of us go through it without having much of a plan. Many of us tend to either drift through life, following the path of least resistance, or simply slide into a routine that isn't painful enough to induce us to work toward something better.

Some might argue that planning reduces spontaneity, reducing us to robots or cogs in a machine. Although it's counterintuitive, the opposite is actually true. Having a plan and the discipline to adhere to it creates freedom; having a goal, anticipating the obstacles, and having solutions ready before one begins enables us to spend time our time more wisely. When we focus our efforts on things that truly matter, the time we didn't waste on trivial things or unanticipated problems is ours to do with as we please.

That doesn't mean that we have to plan out every aspect of our lives. Certainly, there's room for discretion. It simply means having clear, measurable, attainable goals and the means to achieve them. It means deciding and figuring out ways to maintain your obligations when you experience a loss of income. It means seeing a dream job and determining a path that will allow you to gain the necessary education and experience to make the job yours. It means living a life of purpose and meaning, of doing instead of waiting, living deliberately instead of merely existing.

We all have a choice. We can either be the grasshopper, spending precious moments flipping through Instagram and Facebook, believing that, because it does so now, our technology and our market system will continue to provide endless abundance regardless of what we do, dancing in what we believe is an endless summertime. Or, we can be the ant, who sees summer not as an excuse to pursue pleasure, but as an opportunity to prepare for the hardships that will come as a part of life.

—Romeo Cruz, Interim Silver City-Grant County Chamber of Commerce executive director

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