I love plans, they’re fecking great, I have loads of them, I love them so much I collect them!
You probably do too – plans for getting fit, losing weight, starting a business, writing a book, training a horse… plans, plans, plans…
Some of my plans even have tasks and timescales, dates and deadlines, I love them all too.
My desire to control myself, my environment, my business, my Italian half, and my animals leads me to making plans – plans means control. I want control – mwahahahah (that was my sinister laugh).
What’s wrong with plans?
There’s a big difference between planning and a plan. Planning (to write a book, create a course, do a TED talk) is good! The plan (what you think you might do) is usually pants!
The plan is nothing.
Action is everything.
Plan – Do – Happy You
This scientifically proven graph below shows the typical expectations (black line) of a hopeful planee during the planning phase – when they’re full of vino and vigour, and the world is waiting for their newest book (product, speech).
The green line on the graph is my reality (and probably yours).
If by some miracle I actually get past the Planning phase and do some Doing (action for the pedants) I will screw up the 2D plan I have bet my house (or horse) on, and create an energy field so large I spontaneously materialise another dimension – Chaos!*
With action there is chaos.
The only way you can get to results (happy you) is by being comfortable with the chaos.
Getting comfortable with the chaos is where you’ll learn to let go of all the stuff you can’t control, and find the focus for the stuff you can (ermm, that’s you, you’re the only thing you can control). That’s how you get shit done, by focusing, on one action at a time! Whilst letting the chaos drift by.
Your doing creates chaos. Accept it. Learn to love it. Learn to love the chaos more than the control. When you accept that chaos comes along with creation you get control over your expectations.
ADA: 3-1-3 Quarterly Planning Process
But planning is still good, right? Yes, with constraints!
In my August break from working in my business I worked on my business plan. I use my own ADA: 3-1-3 Quarterly Planning Process
Take a big sheet of paper and draw 3 columns, with headings:
3 Assumptions → 1 Decision → 3 Actions.
Whenever you are planning you are making assumptions – about the world, your potential clients, your horse and most importantly about yourself (and your ability to control your own urges!) These assumptions are fine, as long as you realise they are assumptions – big fat guesses. Just note your 3 biggest guesses for now in the assumptions column.
The decision is where you set a constraint – where you write on your chart (and in your decisions book, you do have one, right?) what you have decided based on your assumptions. You can only have 1 decision per planning phase. Remember you cannot focus on multiple targets with any accuracy, so stop trying to. DECIDE!
No planning is complete without a list of actions – a bit of doing! Just select 3 actions that you will be focusing on in the next 3 months and write them in the third column.
Now date your masterpiece and put it somewhere safe (with all the other plans!)
My ADA plan gets reviewed every quarter, or more frequently if my assumptions were really stupid! I put my review date in my calendar so I don’t keep going off course too far for too long.
The plan is static, a moment in time, a bunch of assumptions and thoughts. It’s a figment of my imagination.
I won’t know if my plan is good until I do something with it – until I take an action. Action tests the assumptions, and audits the decision.
So, stop planning, start doing.
Get comfortable in the chaos, set constraints and then move into creation (which causes more chaos!)
PS: Let me know if you’d be interested in a short course: From Chaos to Creation – hit reply and say “Yay, I’m ready to let go of control!” (or say something else, I don’t mind!)
* Seriously, it happens. I’ve been reading a lot of physics books recently (string theories, M dimensions) and there are more dimensions than the obvious 4. It’s true I read it in a book!