The Problem with Planning – Part Two

In part one of this post we laid out the first four steps in an 8-step planning process. Those 4 steps represent a fair amount of effort and thought, more than the average person puts into an entire planning process. 

Despite that effort and thought you know what? You STILL don’t have a plan! Those first four steps are only about preparing to plan, they are not the plan. 

In part two of this post we’ll finally get to the actual plan. Before we begin let’s review. Here are the first 4 steps in the process:

  • Develop a realistic picture of the “as is” or your current situation.
  • Paint yourself a picture of the “should be” or your desired situation. 
  • Determine the investment you are willing to make in order to successfully execute your plan. This investment should be thought of in terms of both financial and time.
  • Set short range, medium range and long range goals that will stretch you while remaining realistic and obtainable. 

Now, let’s talk about the remaining 4 steps.

Next we determine our timetable. One of the reasons many plans fail is that people get behind with deadlines and they just simply quit or go “off plan” and begin winging it. That’s almost as bad as having no plan at all. Your timetable, when closely followed will and should put pressure on you to stay on task. It provides you with a guideline to evaluate the effectiveness of your plan while you’re working your way through it. 

Your timetable is what will provide your feedback as to your level of productivity. Successful people all understand this irrefutable fact: there is a huge difference between being productive and being busy. If you’re not moving forward with your plan and getting closer to at least one of your goals then you are not being productive, no matter how busy you are.

The next step is key and everything you’ve done up to now is just to prepare you for this step. Step 6 is prepare your plan. This is where you use all the information, goals, and timetables to actually construct your plan. This step requires tremendous specificity and detail. What EXACTLY will you do and when EXACTLY will you do it. When EXACTLY will you start and when EXACTLY will you finish. 

This step includes who and what your resources will be. How you will acquire those resources. How you will measure your progress. How you will know for certain the objectives of the plan have been met. Who will help hold you accountable to follow your plan.  You need to have concrete answers in this step. Everything you leave to chance provides the chance that your plan will fail. 

This step is plum full of actionable items. Action is the key to the success of any plan. 

No plan succeeds until it is put into action and that’s step 7 – Implement your plan. It is amazing to many how many organizations and people work to develop a plan, often a very good plan, and then never implement it. No plan succeeds until it is put into action. Start slow, but start. You’ll likely have a few bumps but if you’ve done your work in steps 1-5 you’ll have the motivation you need to press on. If you did the work required in step 6 you’ve got the work-arounds required to overcome any setbacks. 

Plans don’t give up on the people who make them, it’s people who give up on their plans.

The final step is follow through. Not just follow through at the end of the plan but all during the plan. This is where a coach or mentor can make such a big difference for you. It’s hard for anyone to be completely objective about their efforts, their progress or even the viability of their plan. You need a mentor to “tell you like it is” in a way that is affirming and motivating. It is why step 5 includes determining up front who will hold you accountable. 

Well, there you have it. An 8-step process that when used fully can go a long way towards helping you achieve success in whatever you choose to do. There are no shortcuts in this process, you should either do it all or don’t bother doing any of it. 

Successful people plan, they know that even when the plan doesn’t work as designed proper planning always pays dividends. If you truly want success then do what successful people do….plan!

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