A “plan” is not what you think it is.

The word “planning” is overused. Who knows what that means anymore? It could cover everything from an idea in someone’s head that never really goes anywhere to a systematic execution of sequenced steps.

Part of the model I’ve used over the years with my teams enforces something called deliberate planning. But what is that, exactly? They key is how we define planning.

Deliberate: conscious and intentional

Planning: process to balance achieving a desired outcome within available resources

Ah! That’s novel, isn’t it? Planning is about balance. 

Most believe a plan is a process to achieving a desired outcome, period. But as we have all experienced at one time or another, setting up that process doesn’t account for life getting in the way.

So that is not really a plan. That’s simply a well-positioned series of steps. And when we set off to execute on our “plans” that have not been developed with available resources in mind, we don’t get to where we want to be. As a result, we often feel like we’re failing.

Actual planning – in business and finance, in commerce, in education, in weight loss, in our teams and in our own individual lives – is a process to balance (a) getting to a goal with (b) addressing what is in our way. If the available resources – money, time, support, access, energy, willpower (ugh!) – are not there, you have no plan. You have a wish.

Good plans must have these two things:

  1. Conscious and intentional decisions, with sound rationale for why those decisions get you closer to your goal.
  2. Acknowledgement and accommodation for road blocks, whether it involves making some changes, creating workarounds, or setting some boundaries.

True plans achieve balance.


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