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5 Tips for Making Absolutely Life-Changing Plans

November 9, 2011

 “Everybody's got plans… until they get hit.” – Mike Tyson

I won’t argue for Mike Tyson’s eloquence, but nobody can deny the fierce truth in that statement. Everybody who has ever set out to do anything meaningful should know that it may not work out the way you expect it. In fact, your best plans may flatly fail. Does that mean that we avoid great big, complex things that we know will redound in meaning and value for us? Quite the contrary, it just means that we should plan better! I want to give you 5 quick tips about why you should plan more, what type of plans you should make and what you should avoid when planning.

  1. Plan sensibility.

Feel free to use an the mnemonic S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound)  

For instance, David starts boxing in December for the first time and “plans” to challenge Mike Tyson to a fight in June. That’s a stupid plan.  A rookie boxer at his best could not beat a retired Mike Tyson with all the planning and conditioning in the world. The problem is not the plan, it’s As Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling notes, "achievable goals are the first step to self improvement.”

  1. Plan grand – stretch yourself.

I know I just talked about planning sensibly and all that mumbo-jumbo about achievability but that is no warrant to plan without strength, or passion or colour.

If your plans are too realistic and achievable –  predictable and expected – then I don’t know if you are maximizing your potential.

  1. Get advice and counsel where needed.

There is this great book within another great book that means the world to me because of the wealth of wisdom it offers to the young. Check out what it says:

  • Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (Prov. 15:22)
  • Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance. (Prov. 20:18)
  • For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure. (Prov. 11:14)

And here is a practical example from the owner of the book himself:

  • "Suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? (Luke 14:31)
  1. Know exactly what to share and what to shut-up about.

You need to balance number 2, with this point.

Derek Sivers’  TED talk  Keep your goals to yourself is a must see.  In it Silvers’ presents research from as far back to the 1920 right up to the 21st century that show how when you share about your goals to a friend, you may just be defeating your own ability to achive it.  The whole idea is when you say “I’m gonna lose pounds” or “I’m going to save to visit Mexico,” the ensuing applause  you receive from family and friends (“Oh yea thats a great idea” ) tricks us into thinking we have already accomplished the goal. You should watch the video.

  1. Reach beyond yourself.

You need always to think of all the constituencies in your life: God, yourself, family, friends, colleagues and community.  How committed are you to each group and how are your plans reaching them?

 Just a few tips:

  • Define what “reaching” means for yourself, in your own context.
  • Know who and what is most important, second most important, third most important and act accordingly. For example, if I only have 4 hours free in the day, do I spend it with work colleagues, family, close friends, jogging (myself) or doing my devotions (God)?
  • Don’t let guilt bully you into overextending yourself. There are only 24 hours in a day and only one of you in the world, no matter how many people there are in your life.

Did you find this post useful, inspiring, encouraging? Let me (and everyone else) know what especially stood out for you here.

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