2 answers

How much should I plan?

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I know that planning is necessary when thinking about my future, but I also know that a lot of the time things won’t go according to plan. How much effort should a put into planning, whether it’s a week, a month, or a year of my life?
#planning #life

2 answers

Donald’s Answer


Greetings from Pennsylvania,

I think that your question is one that all of us wrestle with as we go through life. I don't know anyone who, early on, had a plan that she/he executed through to completion without modifications along the way. That said, posted on my monitor is a post-it with four words on it, in bold large letters. It says "STICK TO THE PLAN". I have off to the side of that primary sign, another that is my personal mission statement which is "To grow and to give and to forgive".......with a disclaimer that says,"Trying to mold one's life into what you think it should ideally be and not living your life as it actually evolves is not healthful in oh so many ways - STOP IT! Just live your life and keep moving forward." Once you have defined who you are and what you stand for, stick with your plan at least until it has been proved (to yourself) that it needs to be changed. My mission statement has been developed over a lifetime and is the current version I strive to live by. This is the compass that keeps me going in the right direction regardless of what I am trying to accomplish. As I plan things, I always ask myself, "How will this contribute to the achievement of my personal mission?"

When you plan to do "something" you'll need a goal; what it is you want to accomplish. I would encourage you to set your goals high enough to strive for, low enough to acheive frequent success. So, Going to Mars, might not be a great first plan - too big. How much time you spend planning will depend on the scope (the stuff that has to be done between beginning and finish) of your goal and will vary greatly based on the specific goal. If you want to achieve your goal in your lifetime you'll have to define a schedule and like everything you plan for, it's likely to need a budget. Scope, schedule and budget are terms you'll hear over and over in the planning process. So back to Mars; If you can't get to the launch pad, it is unlikely you're going to Mars. So maybe your first interim goal might be breaking down that overall goal down into doable pieces. You might decide to start with a vehicle is necessary for the trip. You know you can't get to your ultimate goal without this vehicle, so that is an essential part of achieving your overall goal. You would start planning scope, schedule and budget for this vehicle. So now, you know: My plan is to go to Mars, I need a vehicle and I need to establish a guide for the best way"I" can get this done. You are now planning. Your plan will need sufficient flexibility to cope with unforeseen obstacles or problems as these will likely impact your planning schedule. How much effort should you put in: well, if you are the person who will ride in this vehicle all the way to Mars, you might want to put a lot of effort into this and into planning for contingencies that might occur on the way. I'd expend that much effort on planning my future.

As for how much time? The 1957 Chevrolet is widely considered one of the greatest classic cars ever built. Now it could have been a better car if the thing had more modern features like collapsible steering column, cruise control etc.......but it had to be in the showroom in 1957. It's a classic largely because the design team put an enormous effort into the design process and because they knew they could only get so much done in the time allotted before the car had to be built. The ideas they didn't put on the 1957 weren't discarded, they used the on the 1958.

At one point in my career, I was responsible for development of high speed rail service on the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington. There were literally thousands of essential elements that were required to be put together from the vehicle, to signal systems, to the color of the seat cushions. Looking at it all at once was overwhelming so we had to break it down on a timeline and priority list. It took way longer than we planned, had many changes along the way but we kept moving towards that larger goal. In my home office I have a design concept picture of the vehicle idea we started with and the vehicle that was actually built....needless to say, they don't look the same. It also cost more than originally anticipated. I and the many people who worked on this project from when it was a blank piece of paper to when the train reached full service extended an enormous amount of effort. When I ride the train at 150 mph, I feel pretty confident that everything's going alright, but I'm not going to Mars. I'm confident the next version of the high speed train will be much better using all those great ideas we couldn't get on the first one.

Conner, The longest journey starts with the first step......take that step with confidence, make changes as you go down the road......the fun part is finding out what's around the next corner.

Good luck in whatever you choose to do!

Don Knapik

Donald recommends the following next steps:

  • See https://study.com/academy/lesson/smart-goals-for-students-definition-and-examples.html As you set goals, this may help
  • Google "Personal Mission Statement" and look at some ideas on how and what others have created. Pick some elements that "speak" to you and formulate one of your own.
  • Talk with some of the people you respect most. Ask them how they planned their futures and what their journey's were like?
  • Keep track of your journey. I started doing that many years ago. It never ceases to amaze me to look back and see how i and things have changed over the years.

Kathryn’s Answer


Having a goal to work towards will keep you always moving forward and growing. If that goal or plan changes direction (which it may do a dozen times), that is ok. You are just changing directions but still moving forward.