Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Time to plan


Today I want to talk a little bit about planning.  Having resolutions, setting life goals, these are all well and good, but without a plan you don't get anywhere fast.

A couple of years ago my niece and her friend came to visit me in Sydney.  They were traveling out from the city to my place in the suburbs - a pretty straight forward trip if you have a map and know the main roads in and out of the city.  Unfortunately my niece and her friend had neither a map, nor any sense of where they were in the city or what the main roads are.  What ensued was a frustrating few hours of telephone calls back and forth as I tried to give them directions.  Just when I thought I had them back on track they would call back saying they took an earlier exit as they were sure they must be going the wrong way.  There were a number of failure points on this journey.

  • They had no plan on how to get to my house, no roadmap of what directions to take.  
  • When they did call and ask for directions they didn't know where they were so it took a lot of time and energy on my part to figure that out.  
  • When they did get back on track and were following a plan (mine) they didn't trust the plan and kept exiting it early.  
  • When they finally got on track they doubted the correct exit and kept going, not realising they'd reached their goal.
Sometimes we can be like that with the goals we set in life.  We make them, but we fail to plan how to achieve them.  Without a roadmap we become disorientated and lost, and ultimately frustrated.  It can lead to us giving up our goals and shrugging them off as something that wasn't meant to be, when really it was just lack of a plan to get there.

Sometimes we recognise when we go off track and where, which is a good start.  Unfortunately the time taken to reorientate ourselves towards our goals can be time lost.  Creating a plan can help us realise quickly when we are no longer aligned with it, and adjust our efforts to bring us back on track.

When we set big, hairy, audacious goals it's easy to get overwhelmed on the journey and question the route we are taking.  Having a plan gives us something to refer back to.  It's a reference point that guides us and shows us both how far we've come and have far we have yet to go.  Of course that doesn't mean plans have to be static.  Sometimes you only realise there's a faster way to get to your destination when you've already begun the journey.

Rigidly following a plan is both a strength and a weakness.  Have you ever been so fixated on an end goal that you forgot to stop when you reached it?  It's easy to keep moving the finishing point and just keep on keeping on so to speak.  Planning is valuable, critical really, but so is perspective.  It's important to stop and pause and take stock of where you are and what you've achieved.  Sometimes it's only when you do this that you realise you've already reached your goal.