“One possible reason why things aren’t going according to plan is that there was never a plan." This quote is by Ashleigh Brilliant and pretty much nails much of our excuse making and responsibility shifting right in front of us. There is also a great truth revealed. I first heard it put very clearly by Steve Stroope who said, “If you do not have a plan for your money, rest assured others do. And their plan will trump your no plan every time.”
Why does it seem so difficult to plan? My experience and observation of others seem to lead me to the conclusion that the cause is usually nothing more than ignorance of the “how to do it”. In my first blog, I examined how to move out of neutral in starting a new action or habit in our lives. We can combine that information with a very natural outline on which you can start to plan anything of importance to you.
When you plan, you want to consider what I call the four floors of character. The top, or fourth floor, is Purpose. Your Purpose is your why. Deep down this is the driver of all of our actions. The next floor down is Values. Your values are the guard rails that keep you on the road you’ve chosen. The second floor is Strategy. Strategy is the system or belief that will determine the paradigm through which you view the challenges before you. The bottom floor is the Tactical. Tactical is the actions you are going to take.
Here is an example of how this works. Your purpose is to provide for your family and to meet their physical and emotional needs. Your values are to show respect for all people and to do all you promise to do. Your strategy is to maximize your strengths and limit the need for your weaknesses. Your tactic is to identify your natural abilities, giftedness, and strengths and then to seek employment in those jobs or careers which require such traits for success.
So here is the plan for your next job. You take a couple of personality/strength identifying test. You come away with the knowledge you are good in structured environments, detail oriented tasks, written communication and logical rather than impulsive behavior. The professions of engineering, architecture, accounting and legal offer good matches as do jobs in banking, marketing, design, and some building trades and administration functions. You should stay away from sales, police, firefighter, and race car driver! Your plan is to concentrate your job hunt into those areas where your strengths match the employer and job requirement needs. You present your writing skills, full of logic and relevant detail, at every opportunity. You also come well prepared for any interview with lots of examples of how you have succeeded in situations where these skills were required. Best of all, once you get the job, you can be confident of success as your abilities fit perfectly with the job necessities.
A solid plan is one that has actions that bridge floors one and two while staying true to the characteristics of floors three and four. A weaker plan will allow inconsistencies to produce conflict on the upper levels. Remember, your plan should move you closer to the thing(s) you have determined are important on levels three and four, not just to achieve the intermediate goals on levels one and two. You can and should be comfortable adjusting any plan when its results or required actions conflict with your values or purpose. Now, go make a plan!