Most people know about making plans. We plan going shopping, we plan vacations, we plan visiting friends and family, we plan a night out or a day with the kids.
No biggie, right?
Do you know that making plans is a way of setting self-expectations? We make plans and set expectations as to what will happen and all so that we won’t be disappointed when all is done. We also set expectations so people we’re spending time with will know what to expect – more correctly, what we expect – and have a chance to share their plans hence their own expectations about the shared time together.
What’s surprising about making plans is that few people make self-plans. People make goals for themselves but rarely will they put together a plan to make that goal a reality. For that matter, few people understand the difference between a goal and a wish.
Example: Do you want to be rich or do you want $5MM in two years?
The former is a wish because there’s no measuring stick except one’s own understanding of what “rich” is. The latter is a goal because it’s a target you’ll either achieve or not, and if not you’ll be able to modify your plan should you go after it again.
I’ll let you in on a secret here; people who don’t make plans and don’t have goals make wishes because it’s safer. There’s no responsibility involved.
Planning Towards Your Goal
You have a goal. You’re not there yet (that’s why it’s a goal) and you know where it is. What’s the one thing you need to do now, today, that will get you closer to your goal?
If your goal is something that will change you forever, it’s probably not close to you right this moment. Great! Then that one thing you need to do now, today, can be something relatively small compared to how far away your goal is from you.
Eight Simple Steps to Planning
Planning is simple. There are eight simple steps to making any kind of plan that moves your closer to your goal.
- Create a roadmap with your current situation on one side and your goal on the other. Make sure you leave room in the middle for whatever you need to do to get from where you are to where you want to be.
- Underneath that roadmap make a timeline of how long you want it to take to get from where you are to where you want to be.
- Think of five “big” things that need to occur to get you from where you are to where you want to be. Make sure you have control over each of those things. Example: “Someone will give me money” is not something you can control. “I will get a high paying job and earn money” is something you can control. Make each of the five things something you can do. You may need help to do them and they have to be something you can start doing on your own, only seeking out help once you recognize 1) you need it and 2) what kind of help you need.
- Next to each of the five big things make a note of how you’ll recognize each step is done, finished, completed and doesn’t need to be revisited. Make a further note of how you’ll celebrate each of these victories that gets you closer to your goal.
- Tell someone you trust that you have a goal, made a plan and share your plan with them. Ask for feedback. Make sure you share this with someone who wants you to succeed and who’ll give you positive feedback. In other words, pick your friends carefully as you plan, start and make this journey.
- Find people you can engage with on your journey. Specifically, find people who’ve achieved something similar and talk with them, get their advice, listen to their experiences. Modify your plan if necessary, don’t change your goal.
- Plan two celebrations for when you’ve achieved your goal. The first celebration is just for you. It doesn’t have to be a big celebration, it does need to be something that you recognize as a congratulations for the work and time you’ve put in. The second celebration is for everyone who supported you along the way. It’s a way for them to know you’ve succeeded in your own eyes, and therefore their investment in you was worth their time and they can celebrate as well.
- And the big one; be ready to change your plans as situations change. Don’t change your goal. You may need to add more steps. You may realize that your steps have steps of their own. Great! You’re learning. More importantly, you’re adapting. Adaptation is why some creatures survive and others don’t. Adapt if you need to, evolve because you have to. But keep your goal as your goal.
Again, the secret is to manage your own expectations according to a plan that is constantly bringing you closer to your goal. Once you’ve set a goal and made a plan your self-expectations are easy to keep in check.
That’s all for now. Stay warm and well.