There’s this new trend around planning lately; so I’ve heard. SMART Goals, SMARTER Goals, getting organized, and what not. To be honest, I’m not that into it really. It doesn’t grab my attention in the way that hopscotch, skipbo, or a mintly pressed cut-off jean jacket does. A tiger tattoo, the original Mario, or 3-in-1 shampoo? Now that’s cool. Planning? Eh, no thanks.
My wife periodically asks me what I want for dinner tomorrow night; “chicken or steak?” Really? Seriously, I can’t even answer that question; I loathe the question in fact. There is something deep in my core that just won’t allow an intelligible response. The truth is, it’s too far in advance for me to know. Maybe it’s that I value authenticity. What if I change my mind? What if I want neither? It’s too much pressure. I can tell you what I want to eat now; let’s start there. But tomorrow? No sir; can’t do it.
Planning has that similar sting for me. It’s analogous in many aspects. There’s no immediate gratification for deciding on what to do next Tuesday. Every once in a while I see a quote from George Washington or some nostalgic leader who talked about planning… “Planning is great, for without it, I would not have chopped down the cherry tree.” I probably mis-quoted him, but you get the idea. I need realization not inspiration.
One of the ways I get going on planning is mapping out ideas for success. Instead of saying, “What do I need to do?” I sometimes think, “What does success look like here?” Then, I can build upon that frame of reference. If you’re like me, here are a few practical things to do to get kick-started on your planning journey:
1) Get organized– It’s a start! Getting organized will help you plan; Don’t get too carried away here. I put sticky notes on the inside of my wallet. True story. Not at all ideal, but it’s an option.
2) Prioritize! Separate the urgent from the immediate. Have you watched the local news lately? Everything is urgent! So if everything is urgent, then nothing is urgent.
3) Don’t get distracted. I like to put some music on and get in the zone when I plan stuff out. Block out some time in your day to plan.
Those are just a few things and it seems to have worked for me. Not all of us can be wedding planners, but a adding a few elements to your planning arsenal isn’t such a bad idea.
Anyways, if you need me, I’ll be poolside snacking on a bucket of churros.
Gus is a Learning and Performance Professional at the Ken Blanchard Companies and is currently finishing his PhD in I/O Psychology. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org