Why You Need a Plan

game plan

I didn’t feel like running tonight, but I went out and ran 5 miles anyway. Why would I do that? It all starts with a goal. One of my big goals is to run a marathon so I’ve signed up for the Disney Marathon in Jan 09.

But just because I have the goal of running a marathon, that’s not the real reason I ran tonight. Because a big goal (even an inspiring one) is not enough on its own especially when it’s still six months away.

The real reason why I went running tonight is because I have a plan — a running plan that is. Once I decided that I wanted to run a marathon the next step was to develop a plan of how many miles I need to run each month, week and day to be able to run a marathon in Jan.

Luckily, such plans already exist and I didn’t need to create one myself. I chose Hal Higdon’s Novice 2 plan which has been used by thousands of runners to successfully finish a marathon. So I know that if I can consistently stick to the plan then I can make it to the finish line.

That is the real reason I ran tonight. I wanted to stay consistent and follow my plan. And that’s why for any goal that you’re trying to hit, you need to develop a plan that you can commit to. A plan tells you how to get to your goal and breaks it up into bite-size chunks so you know that as long as you do the chunks then you will hit the goal.

It all sounds so simple…doesn’t it? Well not always. This works great for goals like marathons that can easily be planned, but what about goals like growing your business or creating a new product? How do you create a plan for those?

I think these things are harder to plan for because there are more moving parts and the path to the next step is not always clear (do I hire more? focus on sales? which product should I design?, etc). All that said, a basic plan can be developed such as I’ll take Tues and Thurs to make sales calls from 8-noon or 3 hrs on Fri to brainstorm a new product.

In these scenarios when it’s not clear if the plan will move you closer to your goal, you have to measure the results of your plan and then change it if necessary. But at the very least a plan forces you to think about achieving the goal, and gets you taking action in one direction. You shouldn’t wait for the perfect plan. A decent plan is better than no plan at all.

At the heart of many of the “success” books (like Covey’s 7 Habits) is setting up a Sunday planning session to design the week ahead and be sure it aligns to your goals. I think this is a great idea though it’s one plan that I’ve had trouble sticking to 😉

A good plan, violently executed today, is far and away better than a perfect plan tomorrow. -George S Patton

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