Many successful people would say that a goal without a plan is not really a goal, but rather a simple wish. Therefore, if you are aiming for something significant in your life, what’s equally important is to carefully plan the steps for getting there.
For some people, planning may be a daunting task and they simply choose to ‘wing it’ because it’s easier. However, as Alan Lakein is reported to have said, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” Planning may be tiresome and daunting since it involves a lot thinking, but if you look at in the long run it will actually save you time, money and effort. It will help you determine the things you need to do now and in the near future, and avoid the things that will bring you zero to little results.
If you are interested in learning how to plan, especially for your career, then you have come to the right place. Furthermore, although it is advisable that you write down your plans, some people prefer to store their plans in their head rather than in a document. If this is the case for you, then here is an elegant solution.
If you are planning for something, then one of the most important aspects you must give careful consideration to is yourself. What you are trying to determine are behavioral tendencies, personal interests, potential, and current abilities. Furthermore, try to prioritize the variables that are closely related to whatever it is you’re planning.
If you want to be thorough, then you can ask significant people such as your family, close friends, professors or classmates about your self-assessments. Find out if they agree with your personal assessment and to what degree?
The primary reason for this is to gather information. The more information you have, the more informed your decisions will be. Also, you can honestly find out the things that you are naturally good at and possibly delegate or hire someone to do the things that you are not so good at.
For example, if you are a naturally good at designing a logo and are able to finish the job in an hour, then it would be a waste of time if you are doing mathematical-related work that would require three hours or more for you to finish. Play to your natural strengths, as you will get better results with the same amount of time invested.
Understand the Situation
Once you have gained a good understanding of your capabilities in relation to whatever it is you’re planning, the next step is to understand the situation or environment. Find as much relevant information as you can as this can help you tremendously in the latter steps. Do not be ashamed to ask for external advice or consult an expert.
For example, if you are planning for a simple birthday party, then gather information such as the location of the party, the number of guests and the size of the party venue.
If you are planning a career, then gather information about the job market. Find out what kind of skill sets businesses are looking for at the moment. Take notes on the jobs that would seem to complement your natural talents, behavioral tendencies and personality.
You will not only improve faster, but you will also get more satisfaction from life in general. Do not be ashamed to ask advice from a career advisor. And remember, the Internet is a great resource worth tapping.
Once you have gathered sufficient information, it’s time to set a goal. When setting up a goal, make sure that it is measurable, concise, reasonable and has a deadline. This it will make it easier for you to evaluate your performance against your goal.
If you have a ‘Big Plan,’ then it is better that you break down your goals into smaller pieces to make it less daunting. You can then set long-term, medium-term and short-term goals.
Now that you have a goal, it is time to recall the information related to yourself and the situation. Identify the kind of job or tasks that are right up your alley. For those jobs that do not work with you very well, have a plan on how to fill the gap.
The last step of the planning process is the actual doing. Some of the time you will not achieve your goal. In fact, if you are successful at every goal you have set, then your goals are not high enough.
Also, don’t forget to evaluate your progress against your goal periodically. Keep in mind that it is your goal and you can re-adjust things in case your overall plan needs to change.
As mentioned before, not all people are fans of writing down their plans. If you are one of these people, then you can use memory techniques so you won’t forget the plans you have just made.
One mnemonic technique is to use vivid mental images. Each mental image represents one item within your list. You can then create an animated story that links all the mental images together.
As an example, you want to remember that you have to repaint the house by June 10. You can start by picturing a big desert dune to represent the month of June. Imagine a big tornado coming and breaking down the dune into 10 smaller dunes, this represents June 10. Finally, you can imagine the dunes being covered by raining wet paint, this will represent that you need to do some repainting.
This is just an example of using a mnemonic device to help you remember the things that you have planned without the need to write them down. Here are a few more tips if you are interested in using the same memory technique:
- Use pleasant and positive images.
- Make things seemingly absurd. Your brain tends to easily recall extraordinary images.
- Give your mental image a 3D depth.
Learning how to plan is very important for success. Hopefully, you’ve now learned a few things about how to properly make a plan, as well as some techniques for remembering your plans so you won’t have to write them down.
Featured photo credit: Saad Faruque via flickr.com