Planning to Plan? (gets you nowhere!)

Planning to Plan? (gets you nowhere!)

| October 13, 2016
Financial Planning

I have this big event coming up. It is stressing me out. I'm in charge. Everyone is expecting great things. I've never done it before. It all adds up to anxiety.

While I am glad to be trusted with the responsibility, I will be glad when it is done. Then I'll be able to take a breather, relax, and move on to my next thing, and get back to my "normal" routine.

This thing requires A LOT of attention, planning and coordination to make sure that it goes off smoothly. I am also learning a lot, meeting some great new people, and living an experience I wouldn't otherwise have had. And that feels good. And with some effort, assistance, and a little good fortune we will have a great event.

However, it somewhat goes without saying that I've taken ownership of this project. I'm "doing", not just "planning" this activity. I'm actively planning this event so that myself and others will soon enjoy the benefits of my team's efforts. I am not sitting on the sidelines watching and criticizing about how it should have been better. I'm actively engaged in it.

You see, developing a plan without action that follows is a waste of time. In my previous corporate career we would spend endless hours developing the next year's plan, with huge budget spreadsheets, detailed action plans, and repeated stressful presentations. And then when the next year came, how much of the plan did we actually accomplish? Well, that really depended on the person in charge of the plan, and how much we held ourselves truly accountable to the things we said we were going to do.

Those who took the planning process seriously would often accomplish 50-70% of the things that they put in their plan. Those who didn't follow their plan would usually find themselves and their organizations in the same place they were the previous year.

The same is true in our personal lives. Planning to plan gets you nowhere. But if you develop a plan, even a simple one, and you (or another person) hold yourself accountable to it, you are much more likely to live the life you want to, instead of just dreaming about "someday."

So if you keep finding yourself in the same place year after year with no forward progress, and nothing to show for it, you might want to consider making a change. Stop "planning to plan", and "Just Do It!" (to use Nike's slogan).

Make it a priority. Take a small step. Make a phone call or send an email. Ask a friend (that you think has been doing things right) who they talk to that helps them. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Do what other successful people do, and you may experience similar results.

Look, you don't have to solve all of your problems overnight. But developing a smart plan to tackle them one by one will put you in a better place before you know it.

And stop being embarrassed about your past mistakes. We've all done stupid things. Use it as a point of learning and don't do it again. But don't let them be your excuse preventing you from getting beyond them.

So as we approach the end of this year and start making resolutions for next year (again), here's an idea: Stop planning to develop your (retirement, college funding, home-buying, etc.) plan and take a step toward doing it. Actually DO a plan. Who knows, when this time comes around next year you might actually be able to look back and say "I'm really making it happen!" 

As for me and my “big event,” well, the planning part is almost done. And by creating a sound plan, I’m confident the results of my hard work will finally pay off.