Planning is about mapping out the results and the work to get there. It can be at the macro-level, such as a project plan, or it can be at the micro-level, such as planning your immediate activity. The key to success is keeping your plans lightweight, flexible, and focused on outcomes. Inflexible plans break when you put them into action. Flexible plans allow you to keep moving forward and deal with whatever comes your way. Expect change and embrace it. Agility is the ability to respond to change. Your plans should be agile in that you stay focused on the outcomes, but change your approach as necessary to achieve your results. You can also practice agility in your outcomes, by adjusting your outcomes as you learn more about what really matters.
Consider the following for improving your planning:
- Iterate more, plan less.
- Plan, then execute.
- Stay agile.
Iterate More, Plan Less
This is not advocating thoughtless actions. It’s a counter to actionless thoughts. Thoughtful actions produce results. If you’re already acting on your ideas, great; otherwise, action is the best oil for rusty results.
Plan, Then Execute
A good way to get results is making simple action plans. This can be as simple as a list of steps you need to take. By writing your plan down, you help free up your mind to focus on the actual action or steps. You also avoid getting lost along the way. It’s a simple map of your actions. The important part is executing your steps. By writing the steps down, you lay out a path that you can focus on the execution. If the results don’t turn out the way you expect, you can modify your plan and execute again. You can also share your plan with others that might have a better approach or can improve your execution.
Accept that what’s important changes over time, and how you accomplish your goals may need to be flexible. Your flexibility in both your goals and approach will improve your chances of success. Success is negotiable; the key is your ability to adjust your plans based on what you want to accomplish and what you learn along the way as you move towards your goals.