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5 Reasons Why Your Goals and Plans are Stopping You From Succeeding

5 Reasons Why Your Goals and Plans are Stopping You From Succeeding

Fail to plan and you’re planning to fail, says conventional wisdom.

Conventional wisdom is to thinking what the pop-tart is to breakfast—something easy, simple, quickly digested and lacking any real nutritional value. I like something more substantial, and I have little time for conventional wisdom. Truth is, goal-setting and plan-making might just be getting in the way of your real success rather than taking you towards to the bright and prosperous future you’re hoping for.

fail to plan

    Here’s why.

    1. Plans don’t need meaning

    You can spend a lifetime making plans, but they won’t necessarily amount to a hill o’ beans. Anyone can make a plan and anyone can set a goal; not everyone bases these things on what they really want or even the things that mean something.

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    Why not?

    Because it’s easier to make plans based around easy things and let the details occupy your focus than to ask the big questions. No plan should divert you from what really matters, and no plan should consume you with detail so that you forget all about what the plan meant to you in the first place. It’s vision. It’s beauty. It’s difference.

    Keep on planning without meaning and you’ll keep on seeing the detail—never the big picture.

    Are you going after what matters to you?

    2. Life doesn’t go to plan

    What happens when life gives you lemons, but you’d set your heart on a whole load of apple pies?

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    Life will always have something up its sleeve to throw your fool-proof plan off track, but with a carefully-laid plan there’s a real temptation to either just “stick with it” (you can just use lemons instead of apples, right?) or turn back around and head back to where you came from.

    Following a plan or structuring a goal can be enormously comforting, but perhaps the most essential ingredient to any great plan is to have it be flexible enough to throw away if you need to.

    Are you adapting as you go or embracing inflexibility?

    3. You can hide behind a plan

    Creating a solid plan and executing it sure takes some of the pressure off, doesn’t it?

    It makes it feel like you’re on the right track, and should something go wrong the plan’s right there for you to blame. You can hold up your shiny plan or snazzy goal to show people how prepared you were, then point your pinky at the “unknown quantity” that scuppered things.

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    Or perhaps, if a new opportunity arises that scares you half to death, but it isn’t in your plan, it’s so much easier to say no to it and keep on plugging away as you were, right?

    It’s a rare plan that embraces vulnerability, but true, meaningful success will always require you to step out, stand up, take off the armour and be vulnerable.

    Are you hiding behind a goal or plan?

    4. Plans prioritise logic

    Among all the details, strategising, prioritising and scheduling, where’s the room for magic?

    Where’s the room for something wonderful to happen? Where’s the room for something amazing to reveal itself? Where’s the room for a truth to be discovered? Too often plans and goals become rigid, inflexible entities that hold you back from innovation and spontaneity—the very things that add extraordinary texture to your life and fuel real success.

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    Are you stifling magic?

    5. You don’t grow by hoarding

    What you want now might not be what you want next year, and I very much doubt it’ll be exactly what you want five or ten years from now.

    Things change.

    Hearing what’s next in your life can be impossible when all you can hear is the hum from the plans and goals you’ve created.

    Sometimes you need to add things to your life or make plans to move it forwards, but other times it’s what you take away—assumptions you made, things you believed, expectations you had, rules you followed, plans you made and all the other things you’ve accumulated but that no longer serve you well—that allows your life to flourish. Letting go is how you get the best shot at the life you really want.

    Are you clutching on too tightly?

    Yes, stepping out from underneath a plan or a goal is one of the scariest things you can ever do in your life, but sometimes, your plan is the very thing that keeps you from the life that’s waiting for you.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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