The importance of having a plan

#failingtoplan #planning

Summer’s over (I know, it never really started) and many people will be returning to work with mixed feelings at the end of the holidays. Some will no doubt be raring to go, some may feel ambivalent and there will be others who are sadly not looking forward to going back to work at all. Whatever your mood, though, having a plan about what you will do can be so helpful in enhancing your working life.

Why is it so important to have a plan? Well, having a set of objectives will help you build the bridge between where you are now and achieving your ultimate vision for your career or business. It’s a bit like putting individual rocks down to get you across a wide, fast-flowing stream. If you attempt to wade across, or even swim, you may be caught in the current and swept downstream, either ending up a long way from where you wanted to get to or, even worse, going under!

This watery analogy may seem a little brutal, but the fact is that without a plan, calendarized, even the best of intentions will, at best, go off course and, at worst, get completely swallowed up by day-to-day demands. It’s that serious and that important.

There are many ways of sitting down and constructing a plan. One of the best ways we find is to ask yourself a list of key questions, then draft out the answers. Here’s a dozen to get you started, be as specific as you can!

  1. What do you want to achieve next quarter/year?
  2. What did you achieve last quarter/year?
  3. What went really well?
  4. What wasn’t so good?
  5. What did you learn?
  6. What will you do differently as a result of the learning?
  7. What are all your options to get to where you want?
  8. What are all the actions you need to take?
  9. Who do you need to communicate this plan to?
  10. Who do you need to support you?
  11. How will you measure your success?
  12. How will you celebrate?

In considering your achievements, ensure you cover all aspects of your work and life. You may want to apply a scale of 1-10 in each area to gauge where you are currently. This will also help identify what actions you need to put in place in each category to improve the score.

Once you’ve done this, you’ll know the size of each gap which will allow you to prioritise your actions, write down a plan, break it into quarters, months, and then weeks, build in reviews, agree accountabilities (who’s doing what), then repair to the pub!

Doing a plan isn’t difficult. But it is essential. Fail to plan, plan to fail is a maxim we make no apologies for repeating. And the time to start is right now, good luck!