You Absolutely Need To Start With A Plan

If I came back from the future and told you that in the next 12 months you would need to launch a spaceship into outer space to ensure the survival of humanity...what would you do?

After you got over the shock of having time-travel confirmed (or called the police to have my mental state evaluated), there's only one thing to do.

You begin to plan.

Photo via  Flickr

Photo via Flickr

A plan can be whatever you choose it to be. It could be as simple as a list on a scrap piece of paper, or as complex as a series of Gantt charts and project milestones. Depending on the complexity of the task ahead, the plan often follows suit. In the hypothetical case of launching a spaceship, that would probably fall on the more complex side.

As I mentioned in the last post, writing down your goals is the first crucial step in securing a plan, as that will be your guiding light for your efforts.

But to take it a step further, creating a plan to get to your goals is what will get you on that path.

Take for example the case of driving from one large city to another one on the other side of the country. If you've written out which city you want to get to, that's a great first step. But mapping out a route, determining where pit stops are for food and rest, and figuring out if there are any areas to avoid (such as mountains and canyons) are parts of the plan that need to be figured out ahead of time. Otherwise, you'll spend your time driving around obstacles and taking unintended breaks, prolonging your journey unnecessarily.

An architect may have an image of a building she is creating, but very specific blueprints are needed for it to take shape.

A writer can put together a story, but without at least the most basic of outlines, he will spend countless hours reworking characters and plot devices as the story becomes more and more complex.

When I work on new projects, my plans are not always as concrete as they should be. And it shows. If I haven’t thought through how I plan on targeting new customers, or how I’m going to properly market this new idea, or how I’m going to be able to build a product with the skills I possess, I inevitably fall short of my goals.

This is something I’m constantly working on, and I doubt I’ll ever truly have the planning down to a science. But I’ve made huge strides towards planning more, and seen the results in the projects where I do take the time to plan ahead.

Now you're probably not planning on building a spaceship anytime soon (if you are, more power to you). But you are planning on accomplishing something this year and in the future. It might be a personal finance, health, or entrepreneurial goal. But if you haven't started putting together a plan, you need to.

- Ryan

Ryan BonapartePlan, Goals