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How To Plan In Your Mind Without Writing Things Down

How To Plan In Your Mind Without Writing Things Down

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.

Self-Understanding

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.

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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.

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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.

Goal Setting

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.

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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.

Implementation

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.

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Mnemonics

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.

Final Word

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

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Last Updated on April 22, 2021

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow

Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.

Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work

In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.

One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.

Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.

Motivation Is Not the Answer

How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?

If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.

We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.

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Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.

Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.

How to Work Hard by Working Smarter

Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.

1. Define What a Win Looks Like

In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.

Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?

Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.

When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross[1]. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.

4 Steps to Define a Win
  • Know the outcome you desire.
  • Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
  • Write the outcome down.
  • Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.

Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.

As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.

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Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.

2. Evaluate Your Activity

Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.

Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.

Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.

Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:

  • Do now
  • Plan to do it later
  • Delegate to someone else
  • Delete it

Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:

  • Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
  • Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
  • Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
  • Does this activity have to be done at all?

Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.

3. Prioritize Your Calendar

If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.

First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.

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It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell

Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey

Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.

It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.

4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next

We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.

Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.

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Best Morning Routine to Prepare to Work Hard

    But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.

    “Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu

    Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.

    Use these questions to reflect on your day:

    • What went well?
    • What didn’t go well?
    • What can I change?
    • What do I need to start doing?
    • What do I need to stop doing?

    The Bottom Line

    Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.

    Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:

    “Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”

    Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.

    That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.

    More on Creating Healthy Routines

    Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”

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