Life Lesson #2: Planning
Planning has its Benefits
Planning is a must if you want to change your circumstances, live your dream life, accomplish any goal, or get safely to a friend’s new apartment. If life is a journey, planning is the GPS! It’s the map to your destination that helps reduce your chances of getting lost. Some people are natural planners, but for the rest of us create a life plan is a foreign concept.
I am a non-planner, I used to subscribe the belief that if I didn’t remember it, it wasn’t important. This belief was more of a hindrance than a help. I overbooked and double booked myself for social and professional events. It meant that chores piled up and I spent a lot of time on just the fun stuff. Letting that belief go, I learned the value planning. Today, I am sharing some of the benefits and strategies that helped me through the process.
- Control. How often in pursuit of your goals, have you settle for less because you didn’t feel like you had options? Planners know they have choices and are in charge of their destiny. When you plan, you are in the driver’s seat of your life. You know what you want, what you need to get and what obstacles could hinder progress. You are not waiting for anyone to give you anything and you realize that you don’t have to take everything that comes your way.
- Clarity. Have you worked on a project or assignment and felt lost mid-way through? Or reviewed a paper you were writing only to discover that you got off track? Planning is a roadmap that helps you stay focus on the goal. It also provides specific markers along the way to help you stay on track and know what to look for as you approach your destination. Like your GPS, a good plan will let you know what direction to move in 2-3 steps ahead.
- Flexibility. A good plan also leaves room for changes. Pursuing your goals requires risk, and sometimes there are roadblocks to overcome. With a well thought out plan, you can make adjustments as needed without panic. Similar to your GPS, you’ll have a few alternate routes available because you anticipated a few challenges when you were creating your plan.
- Save time. When you create a plan ahead of time, you eliminate the guesswork about how you’ll achieve your goal. You identify specific steps and actions to get things done, instead of accepting whatever comes your way. You avoid unnecessary cost, work, and stress, by eliminating things that don’t fit your needs or add value to the experience. It’s like taking a road trip, you pull up the GPS review route options and determine which route best suits your needs.
- Track your progress. If you are like me, you want to know that your hard work and effort is paying off. When you establish a plan, the target dates and goals you set are natural markers to check your progress. Similar to GPS, you can periodically review where you been and how far you need to go before reaching your destination. These check-ins allow you to adjust as needed.
These are just a few benefits of planning that I have discovered, but there are hundreds more.
Tips for beginners
First, let me tell you that I did not realize how much planning scared me until I bought a planner and realized that I was afraid to write in it. I conquered my fear, but it took some time before I’d write anything in ink. LOL! Through this process, I learned to select strategies that worked for energy level and personality type.
- Keep it simple, don’t over think it or complicate the process by doing too much the first few times.
- If planning isn’t your thing, don’t buy expensive planners, gadgets or apps to start, use the free stuff (Google Keep, Google Calendar, Evernote, Todoist, Microsoft to do, pen and paper) until you find what works for you.
- Start small by making a to-do list of things you want to get done. Then organize it into doable tasks, checking off each item as you complete it. Enjoy the sense of accomplishment with every checkmark.
- Set realistic timelines, don’t expect to get everything done in one day. Pay attention to how long it takes you to complete each task. Use this information to establish timeframes going forward.
- Include travel and prep time for every task. I can’t tell how many times I got off track because I forgot to these buffers.
- Remember that there are really only 16-18 hours in a day, maybe less, if you are honoring your body and getting enough sleep each night.
- Always be kind to yourself. The only failure is not trying, everything else is data collection your next success.