In the previous post on the value of planning, we saw how planning can be used to prepare for all manner of obstacles that can threaten your business. But planning is more than just avoiding danger. Plans should actually help you grow your business, taking advantage of opportunities and achieving the result you want to see.
“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it.” Abraham Lincoln
The first step in planning is determining where you are right now, and then where you want to go from there. It is looking into the future and saying, “This is where we want to be.”
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” Alan Lakein
A plan is more than just a desired end-point, however. It’s a process of actually making that future happen through both thought and action. It requires a careful evaluation of where you are now before you can understand how to get to your goal.
“A plan is a list of actions arranged in whatever sequence is thought likely to achieve an objective.” John Argenti
Once you’ve determined where you are and you want to be, it’s time to brainstorm and evaluate the actions that will take you there. The plan is a model for mindful behavior that’s all directed towards one consistent, unifying goal.
“A good plan is like a road map: it shows the final destination and usually the best way to get there.” H. Stanley Judd
A plan is not useful if it not followed. Like a road-map, it can outline the best route to take to where you want to be. But, like a roadmap, if it’s not read and understood regularly, it’s easy to get lost. Sometimes, the landscape and its roads may change or be developed, and those changes need to be reflected on that roadmap. Following the plan and tracking progress markers along the way are the only ways to ensure that you’re on the right path to success.
“Reduce your plan to writing. The moment you complete this, you will have definitely given concrete form to the intangible desire.” Napoleon Hill
Having come up with a plan, it is important to put it into writing. This solidifies your commitment to reaching your goal and makes the process tangible. The written plan and any subsequent written updates act as physical reminders of where you were, what you had accomplished and what still needed to be done at specific points in time.
“A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.” George S. Patton
It’s important to get started on achieving your plan right away. A good plan must be a living document which can be updated, modified and improved through all of life’s experiences. Waiting until you have the perfect plan leaves you exactly where you were to begin with, and wastes time and opportunity, delaying and even preventing you from reaching your targets.
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