How well is what you're doing currently working for you?
I hear all manner of reasons why people don’t do, want, need, or like strategic planning. Below are the three most common…
“I don’t have a business; I don’t need a plan”
But you have a life, right? And do you have a plan for your life or do you live day to day, seeing what comes?
Most likely, it’s somewhere in between…you have a vague idea of how you want your life to be and the kind of lifestyle you want to live but it’s not solidified in your mind and feels a bit hazy. And it’s possibly more comfortable that way for you…after all, change is hard.
But if you want to give yourself a chance of living the idea of that life that sits just beyond your vision, you’ve got to start by defining it before you can bring it to life, and then planning for it. That kind of life-changing change doesn’t usually just happen…it’s created, consciously and deliberately.
Do you have the courage to create it for yourself? Would you consider starting, by simply creating a plan for it?
“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” – Diane Ackerman
“I just don’t think in that way and I never will”
Growth mindset, anyone? 😉 Strategic thinking can be learned, and it’s mostly just about learning how to ask the right questions which get you thinking at a higher level, and then understanding how to answer them for yourself. If you want to learn to think in this way, you can do; if you don’t, you won’t. It really is as simple as that…
“We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.” – Carol Dweck
“I don’t like feeling trapped or having things set in stone”
I’m a planner by nature but if you’re more of a ‘winging it’ or ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ type of person, then it’s likely the mere thought of having a plan scares the living daylights out of you, right?
The underlying fear here is usually a fear of failure (or even fear of success); it’s not about being trapped or inflexible, it’s about being afraid that you’ll fail at the goals you set for yourself and so it’s far easier not to set them at all, and leave things to chance.
The key then is to understand that actually, on your plan, the goals are arbitrary and almost irrelevant! What most people don’t tell you or realise is that on a longer term strategic plan almost everything is guesswork…
In between now and the timeframe you might set on a plan, so very many things can change that the only thing you can guarantee is that change.
So what then is the purpose of having a plan if none of it may come to fruition and it’s all based on best guesses?
Good question! The purpose of a plan is not the plan itself but the process of planning…
It’s this process – of making choices, of narrowing down your options, and of focusing your efforts – which yields the juiciest fruit. The very act of planning directs, channels and funnels your energy, attention and focus in a way that still leaves things open to opportunity but not too open. This is where the power lies…in the act of planning not the plan itself.
As soon as you realise this, that sense of feeling trapped or hemmed in disappears because the plan itself can and should change…frequently (quarterly, even!).
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” ― Hunter S. Thompson