Principles of Purpose:  Plan Ahead

Tentatively titled Principles of Purpose: A Guide To Living Wisely, is an ongoing draft of a concept I might one day publish a book on. It’s essentially 30 Principles that I think are essential to living life wisely. Some are principles that I wished I had learned much earlier in life. Many are principles that I only learned in recovery in 2016-2017. Still other principles were ones I had applied off and on during my 56 years.

PrefaceIntroductionTrusting Your GutUse Good Judgement
ListenRegulate EmotionsSet BoundariesBe Mindful
Practice ModerationManage ExpectationsResolve ConflictPlan Ahead
Have PatienceBe YourselfPractice AcceptanceBe Grateful
Manage Money

“If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”

Yogi Berra
What Does It Mean To Plan Ahead?

According to Wikipedia, planning is “the process of thinking about the activities required to achieve a desired goal. It is the first and foremost activity to achieve desired results. It involves the creation and maintenance of a plan, such as psychological aspects that require conceptual skills.

I was never much for planning, except when I was forced to do it in the automotive business I worked in for nearly 25 years. And I was very successful in that business. When my alcoholism didn’t get in the way that is. There were many times in life when I failed on a personal level because of my lack of planning.

When I was a car salesman, at the beginning of each month we had to project how many sales we were going to do that month. And you better not overshoot the mark; the dealership was projecting their numbers based on what each salesperson stated their goal was.

I always projected based upon many factors: what month it was, what I had been trending up until now, the number of referrals I thought I could get, etc. At the beginning of each month many salespeople just meandered the dealership, waiting for an “up” (customer) to walk onto the lot. Not me. I spent the early days of each month planning on how I was going to get to my magic number.

To be successful I set goals for the number of customers I was going to call, asking for referrals. That included me planning on how many cold leads I was going to pursue from our computer lead generator. I planned my daily activities around the day to day “walk-ins” there might be on any given day. I then executed my plan and tried to stay true to it so I could avoid trying to catch up during the last week or so of any given month. That’s how I became successful at my work.

Planning Ahead In Life

Life really does require a lot of planning ahead in order to be successful. You’ve got to plan ahead in the morning so that you won’t be late for work. You have to plan ahead to make sure you pick up the kids from their activities on time. So much of our daily lives centers around planning.

doing things last minute

Doing things last minute is not the best approach to life. If you are always late to work or important functions, you probably won’t last long at your job. In college you’ve got to plan school work appropriately so that your grades don’t end up suffering.

Flying by the seat of your pants during a family vacation will probably make for a confusing time. Any time I am going to go visit someplace, or someone, I always map it out on google. That way, I know where I am going. But it also helps me to manage the timing of these visits.

Before my wife and I even stepped foot in France I had the entire trip planned out. here is a cool feature on Maps that allows you to plan and record your trip on the app. When we arrived in France, I simply went to the Maps app and started our trip. Everything went perfectly. We got to see the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame Cathedral all in one day! Planning ahead made our trip enjoyable because we weren’t flying by the seat of our pants. We made a plan. We executed that plan.

Not All Planning Requires Goals But All Goals Require Planning

Setting goals always requires planning. Afterall, setting a goal for yourself requires you to map out how you plan to achieve those goals. Planning to be on time for work doesn’t really require goal setting. I’m talking about life goals like saving a certain amount of money for a large expenditure. Setting a goal to get your Masters. Setting a fitness goal.

Smart Goal Setting

It’s one thing to say that you want to lose 25lbs before a special event. Setting the goal is merely the first step. How do you plan on achieving it? Planning to workout 3 times a week is a good start. Limiting the amount of processed food you eat is another good plan. Keeping a daily journal of your progress would be a good part of the plan.

Achieving goals requires an execution of a well thought out plan. Want to get ahead at work? That’s the goal. What’s your plan? Thinking about running the Boston Marathon next year? Better have a plan.

It’s super easy to set a goal: simply state what it is you want to or must achieve. Executing a plan is not the same. To plan ahead is to be creative and also to be realistic. Wanting to run the Boston Marathon next year is a great goal. Only running 2 days a week is not a good plan.

Smart Goal Setting
Be specificIs it measurable?Is it achievableAre you being realistic?Calculate the time required
Lose 25 lbs.YESYESYES3 Months

In the example above the goal is to lose 25 lbs. Is that measurable? Certainly is. Just get on the scale every few days. Is it attainable? It should be if the proper plan is executed. The goal is also realistic if enough time is given to achieve the goal. If you were to say you were going to lose 25 lbs in 30 days it would not be. However, if after researching safe weight loss goals, you determine you can lose 2 lbs per week–and you adjust your timeframe to 3 months–then the goal is realistic.

proper planning

But I digress. This is not a blog about setting goals. It’s about how you can plan ahead. Planning ahead can be as simple as getting up 15 minutes early to ensure you get to work on time. Or, it can be as complex as planning to run the Boston Marathon. Either way, don’t sabotage your efforts by being apathetic, lazy, short-sighted, or unrealistic.

Some plans do go astray. But it shouldn’t be because you failed to execute them properly. External forces can derail your plans. Just don’t let YOU be the reason why your plans fail. Don’t plan to fail ahead.

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