If you felt guilty or angry with those oversabi “set goals for the new year!”, “be intentional!”, articles that littered December, I feel your pain.
As if that’s not enough, those guilt-givers insist that setting goals won’t do. You need to make plans too? And while you may be tempted to smirk, who goals/planning don epp?, truth is, virtually all your favorite stars in any field of endeavor (yes, including those seemingly care-free celebs) have clear goals and a solid work ethic fuelled by deliberate planning. The cameras just don’t capture those moments.
And on behalf of all the oversabis, I apologize. Upsetting you was not the intent.
But if planning is so important, why on earth is it so hard to do? Why is it way easier to binge-watch your favorite series, hang out or just do nothing as a silent protest for having to work so hard all through the year?
I’ve listed five ugly truths about planning. Some you know but maybe you’ve not embraced. But if you dare to, planning will no more feel like wearing a wet jacket in harmattan. Ready? Here come the uglies.
1. Planning can be so damn B-O-R-I-N-G!!!
Let’s just get this out there. Planning can sometimes feel like the most bland use of your time. It’s one of those tiresome parts of this thing called adulting.
As young people, we love to have fun and ‘planning your entire year’ doesn’t exactly fit that profile. It can also be a painful reminder of past failures. The little guy in your head replays ex-plans that didn’t work out. Figuring out how you’ll get your life from point A to B can be a mind-numbing exercise. Can we all just agree on that? Good. It’s not a cheery episode so don’t be surprised by your initial apathy. Think about it like getting up at dawn to exercise or pray- starting is the hardest part.
2. Planning takes the one thing that’s never enough- time.
You may already know this but ‘knowing’ means nothing until you ’embrace’-that is, allow what you know affect your attitude and actions in real time.
When you embrace this point about planning, instantly you realise the need to make changes in how you use time. If you only get 24 hours a day and planning takes time, it means some ongoing activities must be suspended, adjusted or permanently eliminated. Think of anything impressive: a successful high-risk surgery, an engineering marvel, a riveting movie or that awesome carnival. Those events all have one thing in common- much time was spent in planning them out. You deserve an equally stunning year. So take the time to plan.
3. It’s true- the best plans are written.
Those who think on paper, think better. I read this years ago and trust me, it’s true (maybe we’ll just update the ‘paper’ part to include smartphones and all but you get the point).
First, writing forces clarity. It’s easy to muddle things up when long range plans persist as ‘mental notes’. Secondly, it brings accountability. As text, it’s easy to go back and find a concise answer to the question- am I following THIS plan? Written plans accuse in a good way- they dispel laziness and pin you to your original intentions. Call me old school but I still find writing out my plans with pen and paper most effective. Whatever works for you, just make sure you document those plans.
4. Start from your pleasure points. It’s easier to plan if the goals are directly important to you.
I have found making and sticking to plans engaging and stimulating when the goal is something I deeply care about. I’m the farthest thing from bored in that moment. It doesn’t have to be anything special to anyone else- but it is to me. And that’s what counts.
A deep personal attachment to the goal makes planning much more enjoyable. You know what I’ve also found? The energy rush I get from planning how to achieve goals that are directly important to me can be extended into other goals that may not be so dear to my heart but are necessary for being a responsible adult. So start with those goals that mean the world to you and work your way from there.
5. You cannot plan everything. You just can’t.
Again, I apologize on behalf of every oversabi that made you feel you can (or should) script every tiny detail. We both know that’s not possible. This may sound like a direct contradiction to everything I’ve said so far but it isn’t. If I cannot plan everything, why bother at all? Why not just go with the flow and take each day as it comes? Valid question.
Now I don’t know the law but I’ve observed this both in my life and in others too. Planning (and following through) makes you ‘luckier’. Being clear about your goal and working the plan to get there sets up ‘coincidences’ that fast-track achievement. Maybe the process of working the plan heightens your perception of the signals in the environment, you become swift to spot half-opportunities that aid the accomplishment of your plan.
Life brings surprises. We cannot predict the next moment. But doing our best in this moment puts us in the best place for the next moment. That’s the power of planning (and action).
Maybe the oversabis were onto something afterall. You owe yourself a breathtaking 2017. But it won’t happen by accident. Embrace these ugly truths about planning and give birth to the beautiful year of your dreams.
Happy New Year!
Live by Design.