“we will figure it out”


I am a planner and a manager. I strategize. To get from A to B, I would have big picture guideline and then a detailed framework, timeline, and step-by-step visualizations of progress. Large chunks of work would be broken down into small tasks for measurable development. If the work involved other people, I would manage them, monitor their advancement, and resolve any issues along the way. Most of the times, I try to finish before the due date.

My husband is almost a complete opposite.
He can start work towards a destination even though the plans are fuzzy. He would do seemingly irrelevant things, believing that they would all converge in the right time to make sense. He would procrastinate and end up not having to do the task set upon him due to a change in circumstances. He has faith that everything would turn out all right.

There is no right or wrong, or better or worse in our disposition and way of doing things. But, the problem is, I am a control freak. I do not trust others to do what they say they would – sometimes learnt by experience working with those people. I worry about obstacles that are unlikely to ever happen, and project the worst scenarios that could happen.

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A main reason I find it difficult to go with the flow, to chill out, to take it easy etc., is because I do not like losing control of the environment, of myself, and most of the times, of others. I get agitated when no next step is in sight or planned a century ago. I block my own creativity for not letting my mind meander and discover what the surroundings have to bring. Instead I just charge on ahead on the course I had laid out so carefully.

A month ago, Timmie and I had to make some key life financial decisions. I did the calculations, set up an excel spreadsheet model, and presented the scenarios to him. Even before the risks were identified, I set about to mitigate them.

My worrying dragged Timmie down, for he had realistic confidence that we could achieve the goal even if it seemed farfetched at the moment. His philosophy has always been: if I want to, I will do it now and figure it out.

We will figure it out.

That nearly gave me a heart attack.

How would we figure it out if we became bankrupt? Timmie stifled a chuckle when I made my proclamation. He reminded me that we still had a cushion, albeit a small one, and not realistically possible because we manage our budgets with prudence.

I reflected a little on my life. Not very many plans had unfolded the way I wanted them to. Work was more controllable with concrete results, but otherwise, my life’s itinerary had zigzagged down tracks I had never imagined.

A few days later, I woke up and I felt a new resolve. I walked into Timmie’s study room, and said in a sleepy voice, “Okay, we will figure it out.”

And I trusted Timmie with the financial decisions. It felt like a gamble and experiment from my end, but I decided to relinquish the control I had held on like a lifeline.

It felt strange and scary. I had hardly every volunteered to give up control over decisions. In my jitters, I chanted to myself in my head, “we will figure it out, we will figure it out…”

A weight bounced off my shoulders and almost as if someone pulled a rabbit out of my ears, the worries I had about finance dispelled.

For a control freak person like me, adopting a “figure it out” mentality relieves some stress.

A little faith in the universe for coming together at the right time surpasses any risk calculation, as long as we have done what we can to our best abilities.

So, for all those unknowns in my present life, those uncertainties that shatter my nerves, and those fears of what will become, I will figure them out…

I hope you will have confidence in yourself that you, too, can figure it out.
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12 Responses

  1. Irene Bennett says:

    Life is risky it’s true and an optimistic attitude filled with hope make it a whole lot less stressful. It is also true that no one can control everything, so a philosophy about how to live with the surprises of life is a good idea. Philosophy, now that’s something to think about. The controller seems to believe that s/he is in charge of life; the laid-back person believes it will all turn out good in the end. So, if it doesn’t, what’s the backup plan? I think it is the we-ness of the two people, the trust in each other that they share, gives them the confidence that together we can walk together through whatever surprise life brings. If you are Christian, you also believe that God accompanies you through life also. Bon Voyage!

  2. Nigel Chua says:


    I like this phrase – “we’ll figure it out.”

    You know what Nochie, he’s right. Not that you’re wrong – you’re right too – I think a balance of both is required. A person who always “go with the flow” believing “we’ll figure it out” will always get things figured out, yes, but do we get to where we want to go?

    I combine a mix of knowing roughly what’s on hand, and having confidence that we’ll figure things out – as long as my decisions do not overshoot what I know I have on hand, it’s fine.

    You’d do fine, Nochie. Timmie too – you guys are just awesome. =)

    • nochnoch says:

      Hi Nigel

      No right or wrong I suppose, but we complement each other well and balance the other out. Like they say, 1+1=3!


      • Nigel Chua says:

        Hey Nochie

        How has taking and making this decision of “figuring out as you go along” taking you? Did it worked out okay after all?

        It seems like it had, hasn’t it? =D

        • nochnoch says:

          Hi Nigel

          Hmmm… I can’t always adopt that attitude unfortunately. Sometimes it does, sometimes I still get impatient. All a learning process…

          How are you doing?

  3. Cissie says:


  4. […] to discount the struggles and the improvements I have made over the last three years, I would say I am still “work in progress” and […]

  5. […] Plans go out the door. Schedules get changed again and again. Gratefully, I managed to keep some appointments as my husband is supportive and we have a system in place for extra help. Plus, we try to keep some sort of “life” despite adjusting to this transitional phase, as a healthy, happy mother – and marriage – is just as important to the well being of this little bugger. Therefore, if a manicure would keep me sane, I would leave the baby in the care of someone else and keep my manicure appointment. A little break for a dinner out or a walk with the dog together with my husband refreshes the exhausted soul. […]

about Noch Noch

Enoch Li, (pen name: Noch Noch) was born and raised in Hong Kong and Australia. She has also studied / worked / lived in the US, France, UK, Japan, The Netherlands, China, and has travelled to more than 40 countries. She loves travelling and her curiosity in foreign cultures and languages has led her to enjoy her life as an international executive in the banking & finance industry. However, she was forced to take time off work in 2010 due to her illnesses and after spending time in recovery, cooking, practising Chinese calligraphy, reading and writing – in short, learning to take care of herself and letting out the residual work stress, she has transitioned into a Social Entrepreneur and founded BEARAPY to help corporates make workplaces mentally healthy, and support executives to become more resilient.