Today, I’m building off of the previous articles about who you are, what you are trying to achieve, why, when, and where you’re going to achieve it. This is the 6th of my 7 important questions. This is the question of planning.
The Importance of Planning
“Failing to plan is planning to fail,” as they say. Once you’ve made a plan–in your head, on paper, or elsewhere–you may not ever actually look at your plan again, but the very fact that you made the plan was the important part. You’ve done your ‘due diligence’, which is to say that you’ve done the work of thinking things through. You’ve done the research, you’ve thought about all the potential problems and pitfalls, and you’ve strategized around them.
Planning is a precursor to doing, but planning is also a result of conceptualizing. So, this piece of the puzzle fits right between the part you did before (asking who you are, what you want to do, why, when, and where you’ll do it) and the part you’re going to do next (making the thing happen).
To make a super-simple example, I was very sick back in March–I thought it was COVID, but it wasn’t COVID–and was basically incapacitated in bed for a couple days. If I wanted to get up to get a drink of water, I actually had to spend several minutes (or hours) working through this process.
- Who was I? I was Nic Nakis and I wasn’t going to die here.
- What did I want to achieve? I wanted a drink of water.
- Why did I want to achieve it? I felt very thirsty and hydration would probably help me kick this bug or whatever it was.
- When would I achieve it? Any minute now; as soon as I could get my body to move.
- Where would I achieve it? In the kitchen where the glass and sink are.
- How would I achieve it? This was the complicated part.
- First, I’d throw the bed sheet off of me.
- Then, I’d have to roll over to a position where I could slide off the bed (sitting up in bed wasn’t gonna happen).
- Then, I’d lift myself up to standing by pushing off the bed.
- Then I’d need to shuffle out to the kitchen, maybe using a wall for support.
- Then, I’d lean against the kitchen counter.
- I’d grab a glass out of the cupboard.
- I’d fill it with water.
- I’d put it to my lips and drink it.
I actually had to visualize this entire process just to get myself to move and get out of bed. I had to think through it several times before I was ready. Once I was moving, there was no need to think back to my plan again; I wasn’t going to forget a step. The work of planning wasn’t needed because I’d lose my way without a plan. The planning was needed just to get started.
I’ve done the same thing with running a fast 1-mile time trial or lifting a heavy weight. Conceptualize the what and the why, visualize the when and the where and the how, then do the thing. The act of asking, “how?” and creating a plan tells you that this is a real thing and not just a daydream.
From Training Plans to Business Plans
Depending on the magnitude of your goal, the process of asking, “how?” could lead to various artifacts that evidence your planning efforts. For an exercise or fitness goal, this is usually a training plan, maybe on paper, on a whiteboard, or in a piece of software. For a personal financial goal, it might be a spreadsheet. Maybe it’s a feeding and cleaning plan for a new baby that you write on a sheet of notebook paper and magnet to the fridge for everyone in the house to reference. For an entrepreneur, it’s a business plan. I want you to see that these are really all the same thing.
If you’ve truthfully answered the meaningful questions about who you are, what you want to achieve, and why–then started to define that ‘what’ with a ‘when’ and a ‘where’–now the question of ‘how’ should really answer itself. The process should all unfold before you at this point.
If it doesn’t, you might just need to immerse yourself more in the topic and build your knowledge of it. Research, or finding a mentor or a coach, can help fill in the blank parts of the map for you. There are classes on infant care, tax-funded services to help you write business plans, and coaches like me to help you devise training plans. If you need my help with any of this stuff, please don’t hesitate to schedule a consultation.
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