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Why Overplanning Doesn’t Work And What Does Work Instead

Why Overplanning Doesn’t Work And What Does Work Instead

Making plans in your life is a key habit to have if you want to be successful. Plans give direction, and help you move forward in a meaningful way.

But what happens when you start overplanning? What does it even mean to overplan? It means you’re planning your life as if you lived in a movie. In a movie, you have complete control over every single variable, there are no unknowns. Everything happens the exact way it’s written in the script.

But that never happens in real life.

In reality, you can’t plan your life down to the minute and expect those plans to hold up. And trying to could cause more harm than good.

Overplanning is a pitfall that so many people make. But read on and you’ll find out what you should be doing instead to make sure your plans are ones that help, not hurt you.

Know What You Want and Work Backwards From There

You must have a big-picture, overall plan for your life. You have to think past where you’re heading right now, and start thinking about where you want to be in five years, ten years, twenty years.

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What are some major things you want to accomplish in your life?

What do you want to be remembered for?

Do you even want to be remembered?

You can’t wander through life without a real sense of purpose. Actually, I take that back. You absolutely can go through life without a real purpose, but who wants to live a purpose-less life? You want live a purposeful life.

Once you get really clear about what you want out of life and what your goals are, you can start working your way backwards to determine what you should be doing today. 

Start with your five-year goal, then ask yourself, “What do I need to do in the next year to get myself closer to my five-year goal?”

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Once you answer, ask yourself, “What do I need to do in the next three months to get myself closer to my one-year goal?”

Then you break that three-month goal down in to one month goals.

And then you work day by day on achieving that goal for month.

This is an extremely powerful exercise and I’ve used it myself to see significant progress in my life. But you can only benefit from this if you know what it is you want out of your life.

Don’t Sweat the Details

Now you’re at a point where you’ve made your plan and you know exactly where it is you want to go and what you want to accomplish, but noticed I stopped at the monthly goals. You know why?

Life is full of surprises and you’d have to be some sort of superhuman to accurately predict every single curveball life is going to throw at you.

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The only thing we can expect in life is that we can’t expect everything.

When you try to plan your day down to when you’ll use the restroom and what time you’ll brush your teeth, you’re setting yourself up for a struggle.

Such minute planning erases any chance you have of dealing with the unexpected.

And you know what happens to your psyche when you get caught off guard? You start doubting yourself. You lose confidence in your abilities. You start to question if what you’re trying to accomplish is even worth it. And eventually, you quit. I’ve been there before. Defeated. It’s not a pretty place to be, but it can be avoided by leaving a little room for the unexpected.

Take Action, and Take Notes

General Patton said it best: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

All that planning you did in the previous step is going to be a complete waste, unless you act on it. Consistent action is the only thing that’s going to take you from where you are right now to where it is you want to go.

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Regardless of what it is you’re trying to achieve—make more money, get a better job, find a spouse, improve your relationship, lose weight, it doesn’t matter—action is king.

A lot of people are hesitant to take action, usually for one reason. They’re afraid of failure.

Being afraid of failure is probably the worst thing you can do for yourself.

Look at any successful person and you’ll realize that their “success” is just a mountain of failures. Steve Jobs was fired from his own company. Colonel Sanders was denied 1,000 times before someone ever wanted his chicken recipe. Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team. The list goes on.

Failure is a necessary hurdle on the road to success.

You have to learn to embrace failure because it’s the best teacher you’ll ever find. When you find yourself about to face plant, realize it, and learn from. Dust yourself off and identify what went wrong. Identify what exactly lead to your failure. Then get really clear on what you’re going to do differently to make sure that failure doesn’t happen again.

Featured photo credit: origami_potato via flickr.com

More by this author

Tony Robinson

Tony writes about mental strength, happiness and motivation at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on October 28, 2020

How to Take Time for Yourself and Restore Your Energy

How to Take Time for Yourself and Restore Your Energy

Do you ever find yourself longing to take time for yourself? Many of us are so busy with work, school, and home life that often there is no time left over to do something that you enjoy. What follows are some ways to carve out that essential time you need to slow down, enjoy life, and rejuvenate your mental and physical health.

The Importance of Self-Care

In today’s on-the-go society, taking time for yourself is often looked upon as being selfish or unproductive. You have a job to do, kids to take care of, meals to cook, bills to pay, and the list goes on. How can you possibly justify taking time out for self-care without feeling guilty[1]?

The truth is that without self-care, you’re not giving yourself a fighting chance to give your best to each aspect of your life. If you don’t take care of your own needs first, you’ll find yourself burnt out and struggling in everyday life before you know it[2].

Take time for yourself with self-care

    Shift your perspective and accept that taking time for self-care is key if you truly want to live a productive, happy, and successful life.

    Simple Ways to Take Time for Yourself

    Finding time to focus on self-care can be difficult, especially with the demands of work and family life. Often, scheduling time before you need it can be a great to way to ensure you don’t skimp on the all-important personal time. Here are a few simple ways to take time for yourself.

    Evenings With Yourself

    Try to save certain weeknights just for you. If others ask you to do things those nights, just tell them you have plans. Use the time for gardening, reading, exercise, thinking, or the ultimate luxury of doing nothing!

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    Monthly Treat

    Schedule a treat for yourself once a month. It could be on your lunch break, a weekend, or it could be leaving work early. Maybe you get a spa treatment, go see a movie, a haircut, play golf, or whatever treat you’re always thinking about but rarely get to do.

    Schedule it in at least a month before to ensure that nothing gets in the way of that time.

    Buy Tickets in Advance

    Buy tickets for a baseball game, theater production, concert, or any other event you would enjoy. Having the tickets already in hand will force you to make it happen!

    Leave Work on Time

    This is one of the simplest things you can do when you’re craving personal time. Many of us stay at work late on a regular basis. If this is you, make it a point to leave work exactly on time at least once a week, if not more[3]. And then enjoy that time by participating in your favorite hobby or spending time with a friend you rarely see.

    Join a Group

    Joining a group can be a great way to include socializing when you take time for yourself. Find a group or club that revolves around an interest or passion of yours or something you’ve been wanting to try. You can find a book club, photography club, or bird watching group. It can be anything that helps you feel rejuvenated.

    Take an Adult Education Class

    Have you been wanting to learn something new or brush up on something you learned a while back? There are tons of free online classes, and many community colleges also offer free or cheap classes.

    You can learn a foreign language, try yoga, or brush up on your painting skills.

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    Exercise

    For busy people it can be difficult to make time for this, but it’s important to do so. A new habit is started with just one step.

    For example, you can walk for 20 minutes in the morning, and then build on that success daily. Vary how you spend that time. On some days use the time for thinking and daydreaming. Other days you can listen to motivational audio, and on days you want a real boost, listen to your favorite music!

    However, if you’ve been exercising for a while and usually listen to music, try go without any input for a change. Instead, let your mind wander and expand.

    Here are some ways to find time for exercise in your busy life.

    Taking Time for Yourself on the Go

    Some of us spend hours commuting to and from work. This can be a great chance to take time for yourself!

    Commute Via Public Transportation

    If you can, ditch your car and let someone else do the driving. Use that time to plan your day or do some reading, writing, creative thinking, or even meditation.

    Driving in Your Car

    Make the most of this time, and vary how you spend it. If you always listen to music, perhaps also try educational radio (NPR), audio books, or even quiet time.

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    Use that quiet time for brainstorming. Either think in your head or even talk your ideas out loud. Bring a voice recorder. You could write a book via voice recorder over time.

    Waiting in the Car

    If you find that you have a certain amount of “waiting time” in your life, change how you perceive it. Instead of “waiting time,” you can instantly change it into “free time” by reading a book, writing a to-do list, or practicing meditation.

    Two Birds With One Stone

    Look for ideas where you can fit in time for you within things you need to do already or that will have multiple benefits. See the ideas below to give you an idea.

    Walk to Work

    This is a a great one because you’re accomplishing many things at once. You’re getting exercise, you have time to think or enjoy music/audio, and you’re helping to save the environment.

    Arrive Early

    Any appointment that you have, plan to arrive 15-30 minutes early. Then use this time to sit back and relax with a book or magazine.

    Volunteer

    There are so many benefits with this. You make a difference for others, escape work and personal worries, and grow as a person. This about what kind of volunteering interests you and find a group to join. It could be environmental, educational, or anything that brings you a sense of purpose.

    Eat Lunch Alone

    Try sneaking away for a quiet lunch alone on a park bench or even in your car. Enjoy some quiet time with no one to talk to and no distracting noises.

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    Time Away From Kids

    You love your kids, but sometimes you just need a break from parent life. Here are some ideas to help you step away from that role for a bit.

    Organize a “Mom’s/Dad’s Morning Out” Circle

    If you have a friend or group of friends, you could arrange to share babysitting services a few times a month so that others in the group get some time alone.

    Hire a Babysitter

    Make a plan to have a babysitter that you trust watch your children once a month or once a week so that you can take time for yourself. Take it a step further and make that a date night or a night you participate in a class or hobby.

    Find a Gym With a Babysitting Service

    Find a gym that offers childcare so that you can take a yoga class, do some strength training, or even work out with a personal trainer. Make sure you fully research the safety of their childcare program first, though, and get some references if possible.

    The Bottom Line

    If you feel like you need to take time for yourself and relieve stress, there are many ways to do it. Even if you have a chaotic life where there seems to be only seconds to spare on any given day, it’s possible to carve out time for yourself by simply planning ahead. Make this a monthly occurrence to begin a healthy self-care habit.

    More Tips on Self-Care

    Featured photo credit: Erwann Letue via unsplash.com

    Reference

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