How to Plan Your Work, and Work your Plan!
By Demethius J - Obsessed With Progress Thinking up new ideas is exciting! How many hours have you spent daydreaming, or obsessing over the details of a new project? How long did you spend designing that new service, website, device, or app? You’ve thought about everything your idea can be—from what it’ll do, to what it can bring to you and the world. You’ve also spent countless hours thinking about your personal dreams, specifically the type of person you want to be; where you want to go; things you want to do, have, and accomplish. Please, continue thinking of all those those things. Think of them often! But perhaps most importantly, think of a way to make them happen. In other words, make a plan. Everything in life requires a plan, from all the grand things worth having, down to the dull, mundane, and routine. Going to the grocery store requires a plan. What time are you going? How are you going to get there? What are you going pick up? How much are you going to spend? Lets put this into perspective with a metaphor: Society is the wilderness. To navigate it successfully, you first need a goal—something you want to accomplish or make happen. Think of this goal as your destination. Your instincts then become your compass, and your plan becomes the path that takes you through the wilderness towards your destination. We could also create metaphors for your friends and family being guides, and stuff. But lets not overcomplicate this more than I’m already going to. Within our current information age, our senses are overstimulated with content. Information is good. But too much of a good thing is often times a bad thing, ergo brain-freezes and belly aches. Creating goals help to mitigate this bombardment by putting life into perspective. Based on the results you want to achieve, you can now filter what is and isn’t important to you, thus reducing the battlefield and making it easier to conquer. Planning for certain things is easy, especially for situations you’re already familiar with. But how do you plan for something you’ve never done before? How do you make informed decisions about things you don’t know about, or anticipate what you don’t even know to expect? In my experience, the short answer is usually to first identify where you currently are, and then acquire information. Lets break it down. Identifying where you are simply means how far are you from your goal. For example, if you’ve got those Jim Croce “Workin’ At The Carwash Blues”, but see yourself one day being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, then you’ve got a loooong way to go. But with the right plan, it’s absolutely possible! On the flip-side, if your school GPA is a 2.50, but you want to be a 3.00, then your journey’s not as long. Regardless of the distance, getting to your goal will require great effort. But isn’t anything worth having in life worth the struggle? Once you’ve identified the distance from your goal, you’ll need to plot a course. This will require information. Sometimes acquiring info is as easy as performing an internet search. Other times, not so much. The loftier your goal, the more tricky it may be to obtain accurate info about it. But I’m going to share with you a few tips that have helped me over the years: 1) Research people who have done (or are currently doing) what you want to do. Ask yourself, how did they get there? Then, use their experience as a template for yourself. They’re called “Trail Blazers” for a reason, right? 2) Find a mentor who will share tips and provide you with an insider’s perspective. Mentoring often times can be mutually benefitting. Sure, the mentored receives unique guidance and opportunities, but in addition to the chance to give back, the mentor receives a fresh perspective, which they can use to further their own goals. And then there’s legacy. The more successful you are, the greater they are perceived to be. Maya Angelou once said, “One is, because the other was”. Noodle that for a while. If you don’t have any potential mentors, you may want to consider… 3) Volunteering your time or services with someone, or at someplace. Most people instantly think this means interning… which yes, that’s one way to go about it. But you could also volunteer by helping people with things you’re good at. For example, do you know Photoshop? Help someone design a logo or touch up a picture. Are you an avid social media user? Help someone set up a personal or professional profile. Doing so builds your experience, creates exposure for you, and will inundate you with valuable information. 4) If you have the resources, you could hire consultants or others professionals. But let’s be real, consultants are expensive. Their time is valuable because their knowledge is valuable. Regardless, if a professional isn’t quite in your budget, negotiate! Ask for a reduced price for reduced services. Offer the professional something equally valuable in exchange. Don’t perceive this as being cheap, or consider yourself less than worthy. Many professionals will consider your willingness to negotiate as an example of your ambition and commitment. Of course there are many more ways to obtain information other than the few I listed above. But again, these are the strategies that have personally helped me. If what I suggested resonates with you, then use it! But if you feel it won’t work for you, then just use my experience as a template. Take from it whatever you can mold and customize into your own. Your plan will only be as good as your information. Therefore, make the effort to gain knowledge and connect with the right people. I’m not above buying a colleague or potential mentor a helpful book, or treating them to lunch. Nor should you be. However you acquire your information, just stick to your plan as closely as possible, yet be flexible. If you hit a wall, then its ok to take another path, as long as you’re still heading in the right direction. I’m sure you’ve heard the saying before, but its worth repeating: Plan Your Work, And Work Your Plan. And also keep in mind that A Goal Without A Plan, Is Just A Wish.