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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.