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Purposeful Planning

Most people don’t plan. They don’t plan because they believe plans “don’t work.” Nothing ever goes according to plan so what’s the point in planning they ask. 

One of the greatest military strategists and tacticians in the history of the United States, President Eisenhower once stated that plans are useless. (He had a little more to say on the subject of planning but we’ll get to that in a moment)

The truth is, most plans don’t work. They don’t work for a variety of reasons. One huge one is that even people who put in some level of effort creating a plan then fail to work the plan. So before we go any further let’s get one thing straight. No plan works if no one is working the plan. 

Planning does not guarantee success. It does however improve your odds of achieving it. 

Another reason plans don’t work is that the people developing them are not realistic. Two critical elements to a solid plan are knowing your starting point and your desired outcome. We call your starting point the “as is.” What is your current situation? What level of effort are you willing AND able to commit to your future success today. 

That’s where many plans go off the rails. The plan includes some pie in the sky estimate about the level of effort a person is willing to commit in order to reach the desired outcome. What we call the “should be.” 

Here’s one common example. People make a plan to get in shape. They are already very busy people but they commit to one hour a day of working out, most likely at some gym or fitness facility. Committing that hour is the easiest part of the plan. The hardest part of making that plan work often never even comes to mind for most people. 

The hardest part is committing to STOP doing something that’s become a habit in your life for one hour a day. When you make your plan you likely know that there are 24 hours in a day. But most plans look as if the act of making a plan somehow added an hour to everyday. It makes we wonder if people think the extra hour they have committed to doing something new is just gonna fall out of the sky. 

A successful plan for any type of self improvement must include what you will STOP doing in order to make the plan work. 

Now about that “should be.” 

Those who know me well know that I think I “should be” King. I don’t know King of what or who. I  do know so many things would be better if I was King. For instance, I would eliminate lines. There would be no more lines for popcorn at the movie theater. No lines for rides at Disney parks. No lines at the grocery store, absolutely no lines anywhere. Think of the time it would save. 

But…there are a couple of little problems there. First, I’ve sadly come to the conclusion that I’ll never be King. Of anything. While apps on Smartphones have contributed to the shortening of lines at theaters and grocery stores I’m afraid lines, lots and lots of lines, at Disney are a fact of life. 

By putting an uncontrollable and unattainable “should be’s” in your plan you demotivate yourself. That leads to the abandonment of your plan and reinforces the belief that “plans are useless.” 

Now, back to President Eisenhower. Yes, he definitely said, “plans are useless” but his complete statement was, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Eisenhower knew that plans seldom work out completely as intended. But he also understood that the act of planning prepared him for the unexpected. He was not surprised by what happened on the field of battle. That’s because all possibilities had at least been considered during the planning process. 

For most of us our “fields of battle” are competitive marketplaces, disrupted supply chains, unscrupulous competitors, and difficult economic conditions to name a few. But planning still pays dividends. I’d say in challenging times planning pays even greater dividends. 

Make sure you know your “as is.” Be honest with yourself. Be realistic with your “should be.” There are of course several more elements to a successful planning process but if you get those first two right you’re well on your way to a plan that will get you to where you want to go. 

Some of you know that I’ve been trying out something relatively new over on Twitter. It’s called SuperFollow. That means I post some tweets that are for subscribers only. The tweets I post for subscribers are video only. I post two each weekday, mostly on leadership but also sales and living a better life in general. I’m also way more available for questions from SuperFollowers than I can be for the million plus regular Twitter followers. The investment to see these “SuperTweets” is $4.99 a month, that’s about 17 cents a day. The videos continue to grow in popularity so clearly a lot of people think they are worthwhile. 

I don’t get to keep the entire $4.99. Twitter of course gets some, Apple, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, gets an even bigger chunk than Twitter. What’s left after that ALL goes to charity. So you can help yourself with solid video coaching and make a difference in the world too. This month the charity is very very close to my heart. All the proceeds are going to help kids with Down Syndrome. 

You can find more information by clicking the Super Follow button on my Twitter profile page IN THE TWITTER APP. Give it a try if you’re so inclined, and if you are, be sure to let me know how I’m doing and how I can be of even more help.

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