You know what I really suck at? Planning.
Well, planning my work, that is. Whether it’s in the office, on the blog or in my personal development life – I always fly by the seat of my pants. I’m bad at managing my time, I hate setting deadlines and I find it really difficult to focus on one thing from start to finish. (#HireMe)
Luckily, I’ve always been able to rely on the fact that I work well under pressure. I’m also good at making sh*t up as I go and, if I hadn’t gone the communications route, I probably would have had a promising career in improv. ;)
The problem is that the older I get, the less I enjoy working under pressure. It takes a lot of mental energy to wing your way through life and between worrying about bill payments and early onset Grey Hair Syndrome, I just don’t have it in me anymore.
So in the interest of personal development, I’ve decided that between now and the end of the year I am going to own the sh*t out of my planning game and learn how to focus on one thing at a time.
Take my 10-day writing challenge for example.
I had no plan. I simply decided that I was going to write a new blog post every day for 10 days and off I went. I did nothing to help myself. I didn’t plan out my content, I didn’t set time aside to write, I didn’t even give myself a daily posting deadline. Every day at about 6:00 pm, I’d start to get a little jittery. I’d eventually make my way to my laptop, open up a Word document and stare blankly at the page as my anxiety started to creep up ever so slightly.
Yes, I got them done but, no, I didn’t do them in a way that would be sustainable in the long run.
Of course when you’re off work and you have no distractions, it’s fair to do things only when you feel like doing them. But when you’re back in the real world and have to lead projects, take meetings, run errands, etc. – the chances of you “feeling like it” are slim to none. That’s where planning comes in.
You’re not always going to feel like pursuing your goals. In fact, goal digging can be exhausting, tedious, frustrating and discouraging. Pain is inevitable. Doubt is inevitable. Setbacks are inevitable.
But you know what else is inevitable? Your ability to get through all of that.
The fact is that you’re not going to be on the ball 100 percent of the time. The best you can do is figure out what it is you want to achieve and then make sure you’ve got systems in place to help you stay on track even when life throws a big fat wrench in your face.
The way I see it, there’s two types of planning: planning ahead (a year out, a month out, a week out), and planning in the present (things you can do today to get a little bit closer to where you want to be tomorrow). Both of those follow a similar model.
Step 1: Identify your goals.
Step 2: Identify the steps you need to take in order to achieve those goals.
Step 3: Carve out time in your day/week/month to work on each of those steps.
Step 4: Make that time non-negotiable.
I don’t always feel like going to work, but I go anyway. You know why? Because it’s non-negotiable. I know that between the hours of 9:00 am to 5:00 pm every Monday to Friday, I have made a commitment to do a job and that is what I’ll do.
The same logic should apply to everything outside of work; if it’s important, it’s non-negotiable.
When your friends message you to go for drinks after work, say no – Thursday nights are your blogging nights. When your alarm rings and you’re tempted to hit snooze, say no – you have to be at the gym by 7:00 am. When Netflix asks if you’re still watching, say no – you’ve got 15 minutes to brush your teeth and get into bed.
It’s easier said than done (clearly, since I suck at planning), but you’ve got to stick with it. First it will be a routine, then it will become a habit and eventually it’ll manifest into all of your dreams coming true.
As I spend the next two months attempting to perfect the art of planning, I promise to keep you guys in the loop and share what I learn as I learn it. And if you have planning advice of your own, please remember that sharing is caring and leave a comment below.
Together, we’re moving one step closer to There.