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Planning Is Overrated. You Should Do This Instead.

Planning Is Overrated. You Should Do This Instead.

Let’s face it; it has happened to all of us at least once. You want to get something done and you begin by planning ad nauseum. If you are among the greater majority you probably won’t finish. Why is this?

Getting stuck in the quagmire of planning is very common. Planning in the traditional sense can be the biggest hindrance to reaching your goals. Extensive planning leads to extensive procrastination. When you spend excessive time researching and gathering resources, the relevance of your idea diminishes as does your motivation with the passage of time.

Don’t worry – there is a solution and it’s a solution that has been implemented since the beginning of life on earth. Using the five steps of what I like to call the “Dynamic Step Algorithm,” can help ensure you will not fall into the black hole of planning.

Envision. Advance. Review. Pivot. Repeat. These are the five steps of the Dynamic Step Algorithm.Think of it as a smarter, flexible, more efficient approach to planning.

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Envision. What do you want to accomplish? What is your goal? These are the first questions you need to ask yourself. A defined goal is an achievable goal

Advance. With the resources in front of you, be it who you know or what you know, take that first step. Not only does every journey begin with that first step, it also provides feedback as to what the next possible steps could and should be.

Review. Now that you have taken your step, review the information provided by the feedback. What further options have been opened to you? What previously predicted options have been rendered moot? Ready, get set… PIVOT.

Pivot. Based on your Review, Pivot to the path that will help you most EFFECTIVELY get to your goal. It might be a slight redirection, or it may be a more substantial shift. Your goal might have even changed based on the feedback from your Advance. Pivoting allows you to reap the benefits of your efforts during Advancing and Reviewing.

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Repeat. Did your goal change? If not, then advance on your pivot, review and further pivot accordingly. If your goal changed, then envision once more and advance again.

The utilization of The Dynamic Step Algorithm can be recognized in many aspects of life. Animals use it to survive in the wild, armies use it in battles, entrepreneurs use it to thrive in business, and parents use it in raising their children.

So, I’m sure you’re wondering: Can I completely trash the concept of planning?

No, of course not. Extensive planning works best in situations where the past is relatively predictive of the future. When it comes to personal survival either in business, in the wild or in parenting, flexibility and agility in decision making are more useful than the rigidity of extensive planning.

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For example:

Going to the grocery store to have meals for the whole week is a relatively predictable, i.e., plannable task. First, figure out what the meals would be: Main dishes, side dishes, desserts, snacks, drinks. Next decide which store you would like go to. Next you arrive at Walrus Mart (great choice, by the way!) to peruse the aisleto fulfill your shopping list. You check out and go home.

However, what if you were dropped in the wilderness, Man vs. Wild style. Or if you get seriously lost on a hike. You certainly wouldn’t be planning the week ahead. You would be taking the necessary steps to survive. You need food. Don’t choose poisonous food. You need water. No, not salt water and not stagnant water. Is nightfall approaching? You need shelter. No, not a bear cave. These are dynamic decisions deserving of the Dynamic Step Algorithm.

Envision.What do you want to do? GET HOME TO CIVILIZATION!

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Advance.What are you going to do about it? You can hear a river, head towards that.

Review.Oh no! There appears to be a hoard of spiders in your path… ehhhh better head around that.

Pivot. Take another route where there are NO hoards of spiders.

Repeat.Success! You made it to the river. Fresh water. So repeat to find food, shelter and a way out of this wilderness.

Strategic use of the Dynamic Step Algorithm helps to alleviate the paralysis of extensive planning in situations where the future is unclear and surviving business, life and parenthood are top priority.Use it whether you want to learn a new skill or embark on a new adventure. Imperfect action, is often much better than planning for perfection.

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

How to Succeed in Life on Your Own Terms: 7 Essential Steps

There is a great deal of advice in the world telling us how to succeed in life, but often we are given advice that isn’t tailored to our needs, desires and priorities. Success means different things to each of us, and living a life that feels genuinely successful to me might be very different to your idea of a successful life.

Naturally, when we follow the advice of someone else, which is tailored to their life goals and personality, we can end up with something that doesn’t deliver on the promise. We don’t get rewarded with our vision of success: we get theirs.

This is why I’m a proponent of self-discovery, introspection and personal sovereignty. So how to succeed on your own terms?

These 7 essential steps are not going to tell you exactly what to do, but they will provide you with the tools and the questions to ask so that you can discover your own path, so you know how to succeed in life on your own terms.

1. Know Thyself

One of Socrates’ most well-known quotes is,

An unexamined life is not worth living.

I argue that an unexamined life is not a successful one. Self-knowledge is something we could dedicate our lives to, but I’m not suggesting you sit around and navel-gaze in order to find happiness and meaning.

Thankfully, there are people who have created techniques and systems that less us fast-forward through a lot of personal philosophizing, and quickly identify some key aspects of what makes us, us.

You might want to find out what your ideal daily schedule is,[1] and you can take tests that reveal just that. Or you might want to figure out what you need to get things done – and yes, there’s a quiz for that too.

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None of these tests are infallible, and some are more scientific than others, but the process of asking yourself questions about your behaviors and traits is invaluable when it comes to determining your path to succeed in life.

For example, if you know you are an introvert and are unhappy in your current workplace, it might be worth considering why that is (an open plan office space perhaps) and what you would prefer.

It’s these little questions that will provoke answers in you that can guide the decisions that truly improve your life now and in the future.

2. Figure out What Matters to You

What lights you up? This is a question that often gets forgotten as we age. A fortunate child will be given the stimulation they desire in the form of bright toys, affection and entertainment. Little by little, the things that bring a child joy get replaced by what society demands on their behalf.

When we return to that question, and ask ourselves what really matters and what brings us joy, we can move closer towards a successful life. It can help to think back to your childhood, and the times in your life when you were in what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls a flow state.[2]

In a state of flow, time slows and our focus is directed like a laser. We are fully present.

Whilst not everything in life that matters to you will conjure up a flow state, it’s a good indication of the kind of activities and experiences you can try to incorporate into your life on a regular basis.

A successful life is made up of moments like this, and when you know what matters to you and brings you a sense of joy and purpose, you can go about creating more of that.

3. Play to Your Strengths

Why spend your time only on mitigating your weaknesses, only to feel average? Instead, playing to your strengths and amplifying those skills and qualities you already have will help you go from average to extraordinary.

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If you’re great at big picture thinking and love dreaming up new ideas, but often lack attention to detail, acknowledge that. Then instead of trying to improve your analytical skills, focus instead on developing your existing skills of imagination and insight. When you need someone with a keen eye for detail, you can collaborate with those people.

Jackson Pollock was an extreme introvert, with no real desire to get his artwork in front of people. Fortunately, he had Clement Greenberg, who was much further towards the extrovert end of the spectrum, to popularize his work and get Pollock the publicity he needed.[3]

Start by identifying your strengths and what comes naturally to you. Then work on developing those and becoming known for those strengths. You can always find someone who will help you in fill in the gaps.

4. Listen to Yourself

It isn’t always clear to us that we’re on a path that leads us to failure or to success. People can spends decades in a job that is unfulfilling and slowly breaking their spirit, without even realizing it – until it’s too late. This is usually because they haven’t learned how to truly listen to themselves.

The challenge we face is that we’re listening to so many other sources of information; whether it’s the news, television, social media, family, friends or colleagues. Many may want to help, but that doesn’t mean they know what’s best for us. Only you know what success means for you, and working this out begins with listening to yourself.

Listening to yourself requires practice. It’s a daily effort, which over time, does get easier. That inner voice of wisdom will get clearer, and the decisions you make will feel more convincing.

To start, you could try to set aside 10 to 15 minutes when you first wake up, in silence. Rather than look at your phone, checking emails or social media, simply sit in silence, listening.

Ask yourself a simple question like, what am I feeling right now, in this moment? Notice the answer that bubbles up, without getting lost in the story. Starting an inner dialogue, without judgment is one of the key tools you can use to start making better decisions in your life.

Learn more about listening to your true self in this guide: How to Listen to Your Inner Voice for Greater Fulfillment

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5. Listen to Others (But Not Everyone)

Listening to yourself is one thing, but listening to others is crucial in order to learn, empathize and be of benefit to your community.

Truly listening to others is not just waiting patiently until it’s your turn to speak. Active listening requires focused attention, and the intention to understand where the other person is coming from.

When you do this, you can ask better questions and discover more about the world and everyone in it, as well as learn how to interact with others in order to succeed in life on your own terms.

However, this doesn’t mean you have to listen to everyone you come across. Trolls on the internet may come into the category of people not to listen to. Some people’s opinions will do more harm than good, as not everyone has your best interest in mind.

It’s worth identifying a shortlist of people whose opinions you will listen to. Brené Brown, author of the New York Times best-seller Daring Greatly, recommends taking a 1-inch x 1-inch square of paper and make a list of people whose opinions matter to you. These are the people who love you and will genuinely support and help you. According to Brown,

“If you need more paper, you need to edit.”

6. Make Time for Reflection

It’s easy to go through life without taking inventory of what you’re actually accomplishing. Missing this crucial step means we end up jumping from one goal to the next, without feeling like we’re getting anywhere.

Make time, ideally each day to reflect. You might keep a paper journal, or an online document. Either way, jot down:

  • What went well today
  • Something you’re grateful for
  • What would make tomorrow even better

Doing this can have measurable benefits to our overall sense of well-being, as well as keeping us focused for more success in the future.[4]

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It also helps combat feelings of lack and doubt, that arise when we compare ourselves to others. When we look at someone who appears to be more successful than us in an area of life, we can forget how far we’ve come and how much we have to be grateful for.

Making time to reflect on what you have accomplished is critical to keep you on track, and just not looking at what others are doing.

7. Don’t Be Afraid to Change Your Mind

Arguably the most important step of all:

Remember that there’s nothing wrong in changing your mind and correcting course.

The path to a successful life is not straight and narrow. It meanders and there’s no harm in going back and picking a different (and better) route.

“I think our life is a journey, and we make mistakes, and it’s how we learn from those mistakes and rebound from those mistakes that sets us on the path that we’re meant to be on.” — Jay Ellis

Be willing to make mistakes, learn from them and change your mind. Ultimately, there’s no better way to succeed in life on your own terms.

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Featured photo credit: Shirly Niv Marton via unsplash.com

Reference

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