There’s a well-known saying “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance”. There’s a more colorful version – “Proper Planning Prevents P**s Poor Performance”!
Whichever version you prefer, it’s absolutely true!
However, I would go a step further and say planning without execution of your plan will NOT prevent poor performance. A beautifully thought out plan that gathers dust on a shelf (or languishes in an untouched folder on your computer) is useless.
So, my version of this quote is “Proper Planning Proactively Performed Prevents Poor Performance”.
A quick recap on your progress so far…
If you’ve completed your review in Step 1 and created your intentions and milestones in Step 2, WELL DONE! You’ve already demonstrated your commitment to making this an outstanding year. Now you’re all set to go to the next stage of putting some detail into the picture.
As you break down each milestone into detailed steps it will also provide more insight into whether your goals and intentions are achievable.
Planning and the Laws of the Universe
- Planning complies with the Law of Creation.
In order to be successful at manifestation (and by successful, I mean manifesting what you want, rather than what you don’t want!) you have to be specific about what you want to create. The Universe needs exact detail in order to fulfill your desires.
- Planning complies with the Law of Process.
As Einstein said, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” When you look at nature it works with absolute precision at the most detailed level. Organisms develop one cell at a time and in a specific sequence. Animals and plants respond to the changing seasons by shedding leaves, hibernating, germinating.
When you break down your milestones into small steps you know precisely what to do and when.
- Planning complies with the Law of Abundance.
In nature there is NO waste. Resources are allocated with precision and everything is recycled. When the trees drop their leaves, they return nutrients to the soil which will provide the tree with what it needs in the spring to resume growth. When an animal dies, it provides food for other organisms down to the smallest microbe.
Planning enables you to use your resources efficiently. It saves time, energy and money. When you know exactly what you need to do and when, you become much more efficient because you don’t waste time wondering what to do, or waste energy on the wrong things. You also know the tools and resources you need to carry out your plan and can target your investment into the most effective resources for the job.
- Planning complies with the Law of Action.
Dan Millman says in his book “The Life You Were Born to Live” that “No matter what we feel or know, no matter what our potential gifts or talents, only action brings them to life.”
A plan is one of the most effective antidotes to procrastination. When you know exactly what you need to do and when, it is so much easier to go into action. When each task is a very small step it becomes easy to take. Each action you take increases your momentum towards the achievement of your goals. Each step takes you closer and boosts your self-confidence and belief in the possibility of achieving those goals.
Your plan enables ‘Proactive Performance’ towards a positive outcome!
What you need in the way of planning tools really depends on the scope and complexity of your goals. If you are undertaking a major project for your business you’ll need a tool that can handle a high level of complexity. If you’re defining an exercise plan you’ll only need something simple.
So don’t go overboard on planning tools, otherwise if you get something too sophisticated you’ll have to invest time in learning how to use it when you could be carrying out your plan! Having said that, it is essential to have somewhere to list out the individual tasks so your plan is easy to follow, you can keep track of your progress and have the satisfaction of ticking off each step as you complete it.
There are lots of tools to choose from depending on your needs. It could be as simple as a to do list in your notebook up to the complexity of a project planning tool like Microsoft Project. Here are a few suggestions:
- Pen and paper.
- A note keeping tool like Microsoft’s OneNote or Evernote (which have to do list templates).
- A ‘to do list’ spreadsheet template.
- An online planning tool such as Insightly.
The aSmilingWorld team uses Insightly as it is both a planning tool and a CRM tool combined, and it’s free for up to 3 users (up to 6 users if you’re a non-profit organization). We’ve also used OneNote and recently started using Evernote as it integrates with Insightly. If you already have a suitable tool, just go ahead and use it. Otherwise a Google search will give you lots of options.
The choice is up to you! As with everything, go with what feels comfortable.
Once again let’s set you up for a successful session by clearing your mind and focusing your full attention.
Start by taking some deep breaths to relax yourself and focus completely on this task in the present moment. If your mind starts to wander, just bring it back into focus by concentrating on your breathing which will block out the intruding thoughts.
Get together what you need before you start. If you’re going to use a computer based tool, then do your planning on your computer. If you haven’t decided on a tool, just use a notebook and pen.
How to Create Your Plan
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time
- Take each milestone on your list and work out the steps you need to take to achieve it.
- List any resources you need (money, equipment etc). Be specific about each resource and make sure you’ve included a task to acquire them.
- Put the tasks in the sequence in which they need to be carried out and add an estimate of the time needed to complete the task.
- Create a timeline by working backwards from the milestone you set (the completion date) assigning completion dates for each individual task based on the amount of time you’ve estimated each one will take. This will give you a start date.
- If the start date is earlier than the current date, or the date you planned to start, it means your milestone completion date is currently unachievable and your plan needs to be adjusted. You then have 3 choices:
- Move the completion date of your milestone back to an achievable date.
- Assign more of your time to each task so they take a shorter time period (elapsed time) to complete. i.e. if you planned to spend 3 hours a week on the task over 4 weeks (12 hours in total), you could increase that to 4 hours a week to shorten the time period to 3 weeks.
- Bring in additional resources (e.g. people, tools) to reduce the time it takes. e.g. if you’re digging a hole for a pond in your garden you could shorten the timescales by getting someone to help you dig the hole, or you could hire a mechanical digger to get the work done faster.
This is a pretty simple process to get you started on creating realistic plans you can follow. Planning can be as simple or as complex as you wish to make it, but complex project planning is way beyond the scope of this article!
Here are a few tips to help you along the way:
1. Make Your Goals Easy to Achieve
Breaking down your goals into simple steps makes them much easier to achieve for several reasons.
- It is easy to get overwhelmed when you look at the big picture – once you break it down into steps you have a road map to follow.
- Make each step easy to undertake and complete. If you make each step too big you are creating barriers that will make you likely to procrastinate or avoid it completely.
- Every time you are able to tick off one of the actions towards your goal, it will add to your motivation and spur you on to the next task.
2. Don’t Overstretch Yourself
Don’t set too many goals. It’s tempting to put together a huge list of all the things you’d like to achieve and be over-optimistic about how long it will take you to get there. (I know because I’ve done that too!)
By following the steps above to create your plan you’ll soon see if you’ve been over-ambitious. Take out the low priority goals and focus your attention on the really important things.
3. Create Balance
If you’re creating plans for your business, remember to take into account all your other commitments like your partner and family. Get buy-in from your family and friends so they understand what you’re working towards and support you when you need to devote time to your plan.
Allow yourself some ‘play’ time when you can relax and recharge your batteries. Include plans for your recreational interests.
4. Stay Positive
If you find yourself slipping from your plan, don’t beat yourself up. Look at why this has happened – review and revise your plan if necessary and pick up where you left off. Just because you’ve lapsed for a few days doesn’t mean you have to give up completely.
Perhaps this particular goal is not that important to you any more. If that’s the case, make a conscious choice to ‘can the plan’ and invest your time and energy in something that is important.
5. Be Aware of Your Strengths and Weaknesses
The best way to make sure you stick to your goals is to play to your strengths and to find a way to compensate for your weaknesses. The more you make an effort to consciously overcome the things you find difficult, the easier it will become and you will get much more satisfaction from achieving things that are challenging than from things that come easily to you.
Isn’t that why we set goals – to stretch ourselves outside our comfort zone?
Some of our weaknesses are due to subconscious programming which makes them more difficult to overcome and we need to look at the cause not the symptoms. It’s no good someone telling you to stop procrastinating – you need to get to the reason WHY you procrastinate and cure it once and for all.
6. Be Accountable
You are far more likely to stay committed to your goals and on track if you are accountable to someone else. This is the advantage of having a coach or a mentor who will support you and help you develop the right mindset rather than being critical or judgmental. Alternatively buddy up with your partner or a friend so you can keep each other on track. Make sure you choose someone you feel completely comfortable with so you can be honest about your issues and challenges.
Commit to following these steps and you WILL create the success you want.
Jan Moore is one of the leading empowerment, mindset and manifestation mentors and trainers in the personal and spiritual development community. She is an authority on human personality, spiritual laws, mindfulness and manifestation and her intuitive insights have created lasting transformation for people around the world.
You can reach Jan through her website or directly at 1-512-487-2980 (USA) or +44-203-808-714 (UK).