“How can I be more successful in life?” is a question that we all ask ourselves from time to time. People who have a burning need or desire to make change ask this question often and urgently.
More enlightened success seekers know…
“Failing to Plan is Just Planning to Fail”
Imagine for a moment that you are cast adrift in a tiny boat in the middle of the ocean. No-one knows you are there, you have no radio or means of communication, no map or compass to guide you, no food no water and only enough fuel for the engine to get you to the nearest land. If you’re going to survive you need to get to land – and fast.
But what are your chances of success? Unless you know exactly where you are going they aren’t great are they?
You might get lucky and get picked up by a passing ship or come across an inhabited island.
…or more likely not. You might end up on a tiny barren speck of land in the middle of the ocean. Or even worse just end endlessly going round in circles until your fuel runs out.
Can you see how this relates to being successful in your life? If you don’t have a plan, you are going to be adrift on the ocean life without a map and compass and only limited time and energy to get to where you want to go.
The chances are you’re going to end up frantically going round in circles through life. You won’t reach the destination you want to reach, maybe you’ll end up somewhere you don’t want to be or even worse get absolutely nowhere.
Planning Helps You In So Many Ways
Now that you know that you need to plan, you should realise that it can help you in so many ways that once you’ve got a plan you’re not going to know how you ever managed without one. Here’s a few of the things that planning can do for you…
- You become focussed on your goal. Knowing where you are going and what it looks like will draw you magnetically towards your destination. This is a virtuous circle – to plan you need to focus on your goal, planning will re-enforce that focus.
- Your plan will have a pathway that will take you step by step to your goal. This will break a seemingly enormous and impossible task down into a lot of achievable steps that you know you can manage.
- You should make sure you absolutely believe in the pathway to your goal. If you don’t, you run the risk that the next great offer or the next fad diet or whatever the latest craze is will come along and distract you.
- Developing a well thought out plan lets you do a dry run of how you are going to get to your goal. Like any dry run you can foresee problems and make sure you have solution before they even happen.
- Your plan should have steps along the way, with clear dates and times when you’re going to finish them. Each of these steps is like a mini goal that you are going to commit yourself to. Make sure that each one is challenging but achievable. They will let you know you’re going somewhere… you are no longer adrift.
- Your plan will let you see how much you have achieved as you look back over it. Every time you make a significant achievement you can celebrate your success! It doesn’t matter if someone else seems to be much better than you, you know you’ve come a long way and you deserve that reward.
Plans Are Living Documents
As you work your plan you will have a clear idea of where you are going next. You will be moving forward taking it one step at a time until you arrive exactly as your goal just as you planned. You’ll sail past pitfalls and obstacles effortlessly…
…WAIT A MINUTE !!! Life is just not like that is it?
We’ve all heard that old saying from the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns “the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry” (I think he said it a bit differently, but that’s how I’ve heard it:-) )
Meaning that all plans will go wrong… and yes he was right, they all go wrong, often at the first encounter with reality.
So why bother planning if it’s going to go wrong? Aren’t you just wasting your time.
No No No !!!
If you’ve got a plan, you have already thought out how you are going to get there, you have a clear pathway…
…and now you can use all of that information to figure out how you’re going to get round the obstacle, solve the problem that’s in your way.
Even better, if you run into one of those new opportunities that promises to get you there in double quick time, you can use your plan to see if it is really going to help you or not. If you’re convinced it will help you get to your goal faster/more easily then fantastic, you’ve just saved time and effort! If not you’ll know that this latest and greatest opportunity just wasn’t right for you.
As you work your plan, you are going to learn a lot about yourself and the goal you are trying to reach. You should make appointments with yourself to look at your plan regularly (hint: professional managers make these appointments or “review meetings” part of their plan). Don’t be afraid to revise your plan in the light of what you know.
Maybe you’ll find you’ve fallen into the common trap of being overambitious about the steps in your plan. You’re going to have to be patient and allow a bit longer to get to your goal. Either allow a bit longer for each step or take smaller steps.
Maybe you’ve overestimated the difficulties and planned on taking too many steps. Great, then you can get to your goal faster.
Maybe, you’ll find you’ve missed some vital step out. Put it in and adjust your plan…
Whatever happens, DO NOT ABANDON YOUR PLAN!!!!
I know you’re smart enough to have go the idea by know, so I’ll wrap up now.