Planning ahead

Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan.
Tom Landry
1924 – 2000

Each morning, I read certain comic strips in the newspaper. I read the comics for two reasons: they provide a bit of humor in an otherwise stressful world, and they often contain a kernel of truth.

I don’t normally read Garfield, but my daughter pointed out an installment that contained a valuable lesson. (If you aren’t familiar with the comic, its main character is a cat named Garfield–a stereotypical “fat cat”, lazy and opinionated.)

In the first panel, Garfield says, “I believe in planning ahead.” In the second panel, he says “because,” and in the third panel he completes the thought: “If you spend enough time planning you never actually have to do anything.”

I got a chuckle out of the cartoon, and I recognized the lesson contained in the strip. So many people engage in planning, but they never get around to acting.

Now, we all need to do a certain amount of planning. But plans are like knowledge: the value is in using the plan. Preparation is worthless without action.

I know so many people who love to plan but are deathly afraid to act. They keep preparing in an effort to make their strategy perfect. Sadly, all their efforts are wasted by their failure to act. Remember, a poor plan that’s well executed is always better than a great one that’s never used.

Are you using planning as an excuse for failing to act? It’s okay for Garfield to think planning is great because it delays action. But it’s not okay for you — not if you want to achieve your goals. Part of a good plan should be a firm date for implementation. The sooner you implement your strategy, the sooner you’ll discover the flaws.

Don’t wait for your plan to be perfect before you put it in motion. No matter how solid your plan, it generally won’t survive the first phase of implementation without some adjustments. We can never anticipate every contingency, so don’t try.

Let your motto be “Ready, Fire, Aim:” plan, take action, and then use feedback to refine your strategy. Because endlessly preparing in order to avoid acting will never get you where you want to be.

In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
Theodore Roosevelt
1858 – 1919

Copyright © 2020 John Chancellor

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