The Importance of Planning

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” – Ron Watmough

You’ve heard the proverb, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”. While researching this article I also found an alternative “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin. I will show you why planning is so important. If you’re not engaged in the planning process, completely, you waste the majority of your energy achieving very little. Having no plan when disaster strikes, will force your reliance on the government and others. If you fail to plan you fail to become self-reliant.

Another proverb we have all heard is, “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” – Helmuth von Moltke (The Elder) So, you know plans are important. But you also know that plans don’t work. So why bother at all? I believe Dwight D. Eisenhower said it best. “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” What does this mean?

By engaging in the planning process you will avoid many obvious and not so obvious pitfalls that could cost you time, money or worse. Thoroughly planning your projects forces you to consider all that might happen so you build in contingencies.

Good Plans

The key to good plans is flexibility. Nothing ever goes according to plan. However, when you discover an obstacle, a good plan is modified to deal with it. “Failed plans should not be interpreted as a failed vision. Visions don’t change, they are only refined. Plans rarely stay the same and are scrapped or adjusted as needed. Be stubborn about the vision, but flexible with your plan.” – John C. Maxwell

State an Objective

So now we know why we plan and the consequences of failing to plan, but what are our goals when planning? When creating a plan we are defining how we intend to accomplish a particular objective. Our first goal is to be very clear on our objective. Our objective can be anything that we choose to accomplish. Try and make your objectives realistic, though. It is no good stating that you intend to travel to the other side of the universe in the next 10 days. However, converting your shed to solar power is a realistic and achievable objective.

Determine the Resources Needed

Our second goal is to determine the resources we need to achieve the objective. I’ll use the solar powered shed objective as an example. So if you are like me and you have not used solar before, one of the resources you need is knowledge. After learning about solar you find you need PV Panels, a Charge Controller, Batteries and other miscellaneous materials.

Determine the Location

Our third goal is to determine the location. We need to know where we are going to do something to determine if it is even possible to accomplish our objective in that location. For instance, one of the plans I am currently working on is a dog kennel. An earlier version of the plan had a 1m x 10m shed. However, the location I chose for the shed placed it directly under power lines. Once I realised that I did not continue, the power lines might fall on the shed and either electrocute or trap the dogs inside. In our solar shed example, we would determine which side of the shed roof to install the panels on, where to install the battery bank, charge controller and other components and where to run the cables.

List the Necessary Steps

After we determine our resources and location our fourth goal is to determine the steps necessary to convert our resources into our objective. For instance:

  1. Install the Charge Controller
  2. Build the Battery Bank
  3. Install Fuses and Load Control Centre
  4. Install Solar Panels
  5. Run Cables
  6. Test Installation

Review the Plan

Our fifth goal is to review the plan with a critical eye. Ask yourself “What If” find areas where your plan will fail. It is easier to address these issues on paper rather than be halfway through your plan and realise you need a scissor lift to get your PV Panels on the roof.

plan-outline

A basic plan outline

Implement the Plan

When you’re satisfied with the plan, implement it. Gather your resources, complete the project and achieve your objective. Your sixth goal is to actually achieve your stated objective.

Did we Reach our Objective

Our seventh goal is to review the execution. After we have achieved the objective we compare what happened with what we expected to happen. Often overlooked this review gives vital feedback for improving future plans.

Final Word

Now that you’re convinced about the importance of planning, the consequences of failing to plan and the planning process. You should now know that planning properly can save you time and money and is the only effective way to achieve your goals. No matter how hard you try nothing ever goes according to plan but you your plan is flexible enough to overcome obstacles. You know what your goals are for creating plans. Next, read my post on defining your objective or smart goals.

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