John Lennon had a point when he sang ‘life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans‘ – when it comes to every day life, it does seem like we plan one thing and end up doing something completely different . The thing is, these ‘plans’ are often not really plans at all. They are more like vague aspirations into which we put little effort so guess what, we end up doing something else (or nothing at all!)
When it comes to businesses, it can be much the same. We think we have a plan of action when in fact what we have is a germ of an idea that we might do something about later on… or maybe tomorrow… our plan of action becomes one big procrastination (or to be more polite, we put it off to do something else).
That’s why writing down our plans is a very good idea. Ever wondered why when you write a list you actually get things done? It works the same way for a plan. Get something on paper and start ticking off the action points. The written word has incredible power and a plan of action is a great way to make your goals come to life.
So why don’t more of us write a plan? Some of the reasons given for not writing down goals and objectives seem reasonable until we explore them:
“A goal without a plan is just a wish” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Objection 1: I might change my mind – this is in fact a self fulfilling prophecy. You will almost certainly change your mind about your goals and plans but even more so if they are not written down – partly because you’ve already forgotten most of what you wanted to do! When they are written down, you can amend, embellish, clarify but you still have a plan.
“You can’t plow a field simply by turning it over in your mind.”, Gordon B Hinkley
Objection 2: I don’t like committing my ideas to paper
I love this quote. How many times have I done this? Turned an idea over and over in my mind and never actually made it to the ‘field’. The thing about just thinking about idea is that it is very easy to persuade yourself that the idea isn’t a good one. You work with the knowledge you have in your head only. When you write up a plan, you can isolate those areas that need more research, where you have just made assumptions, where you know the truth of the idea… it’s liberating as once it’s written down, you can actually stop thinking about it for a while! And then get on with it when you’re ready. There’s really is something fun (believe me!) about updating a draft plan you’ve written and getting all the detail into it so that you can figure out how you do. You can share it with a good friend or your partner and start to get their feedback in an objective way. Try it it’s fun!
“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” ― Dwight D. Eisenhower
Objection 3: I don’t like planning, I prefer to be spontaneous!
This is interesting because it is the act of planning (and not the dreaming about planning) that is the whole point. Planning, in my view makes you consider all possibilities and look forward. You consider the alternatives, you play with how you utilise your resources, you consider options. You can consider what your obstacles might be (in business, how the competition might react).
“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” ― Peter F. Drucker
Final word. Get out there. Take your best plan (and the best plan is the one you have right now) and do something with it. Commit to your goals and objectives and get on with the things that are most important to you. Get your business moving, learn that language, travel to the Pyramids. Plan your work and work your plan. Life is waiting for you. Unless you have some other plans 🙂