Why is planning good? Why planning our lives is important?
There are so many varying opinions on the keys to success and leading a meaningful, happy, and fulfilling life. Working hard, having discipline, and sacrificing are just a few examples. However, I believe that one of the integral factors necessary to be successful at anything is planning.
If you ask a large group of people what they would like to achieve in their lives, the answers will vary considerably. Some of the more common answers you can expect are:
- I want to make more money
- I want to be happy
- I want to be healthy
- I want to lose weight
- I want to travel and see the world
- I want to have meaningful and happy relationships
- I want to stop worrying
- I want to be respected
- I want to stop procrastinating
All of these are worthwhile goals to pursue. However, if you ask the same group of people if they have developed a specific plan to achieve their goals, it is more than likely that only a small minority have taken the time to do just that. In other words, while all of us have desires and dreams, very few of us have actually taken the time to write down a specific plan detailing how to go about achieving them.
Planning your life is one of the most powerful and effective ways to attain what you want. Nobody plans to fail; they simply fail to plan. Put another way, failing to plan is akin to planning to fail.
Think about this for a second: if you travel, you plan your trip. If you are getting married, you plan your wedding. If you throw a party, you plan the event. You would not dream of doing any of the above without some form of prior planning. Living a life of success filled with meaning, happiness and fulfillment is no different. Yet most people neglect to plan their lives and then get disappointed and discouraged when they do not attain what they want.
Planning your life is equivalent to having a road map that helps you reach your desired destination. Unless you have already been to the place you want to go numerous times and already know how to get there, you will need a good map. It would be foolish to get in your car and drive around aimlessly, hoping to eventually reach your destination. Despite this, so many people in the world today fail to plan their lives and end up lost or stuck where they are.
When you take the time to plan your life, you are taking the steps necessary to not only identify and reach your desired goal, but also to do so in the most efficient manner. Rather than relying on pure chance, a life plan details the exact route to take. It helps you get there in the shortest time possible without running out of gas.
Your planning can be applied to both small and big aspects of your life. It could be that you want to wake up earlier, or stop smoking, or live in Europe, or be closer to your spouse and children, or be a nicer person, or start your own business, or lose weight, or get a promotion or better job. Personally, I have used the power of planning to wake up earlier, start this blog, get fitter, lose weight, become more calm and mindful, read more books, and become happier, among st other things. If I did not plan to accomplish those things, I doubt I would have accomplished most of them. I know this because when I have failed to carefully identify and plan a goal, I have generally failed to achieve it. Like I said, “failing to plan is akin to planning to fail”.
Thankfully, spending a little time to plan our lives is something all of us can do. The time and effort spent will reward us many times over. It will save us a lot of disappointment, frustration, and time, which is our most precious commodity.
The advantages of planning your life:
- When you sit down and make the time and effort to plan your life, you will identify what is important to you. You will detail exactly what you want out of life, something most people have never done. It will enable you to clearly state your goals without any ambiguity. It will help determine exactly what kind of life you want. To use our road map analogy, it establishes your desired destination.
- Planning provides you with a road map to get to your destination. It allows you to not only figure out how you will get there, but also gives you a way to determine how far you have come and how much more you have left to go. It helps keep you from spending time on tasks that won’t bring you closer to your goal.
- Planning your life gives you control. If you create a plan then you get to make choices and decisions, rather than leaving things up to chance, or worse yet, letting others make decisions for you. When you have a plan then you are in charge of where you are going, making it easier for you to get exactly where you want to be.
- It is much easier to establish and maintain balance in your life when you make a plan. When people, tasks and responsibilities try to get your attention and take you off track, your plan will help you to decide how much attention you will give to each of those distractions. Without your plan, you may soon find yourself off track and your life out of balance because you won’t know when to say enough is enough.
- It is also easier to identify and focus on your priorities when you create a plan. We all have multiple responsibilities and priorities in our lives. Many if not most of these are placed on us by someone else. By identifying your own priorities as separate from those of others, and then planning on how to pursue them, you will find yourself not getting derailed by something that is more important to someone else than it is to you.
- Planning helps to make your dreams more attainable. If you feel like your dreams are always beyond your reach, it might be because you have never tried to develop a plan on how you can actually reach them. Once a realistic plan is in place, you will be amazed at how achievable your dreams really can be.
- Having a sense of purpose can go a long way to making you happier. A plan can help you establish your purpose. People with plans are people who have a purpose, a goal, that drives them every day. Once your plan is in place and you start putting it into action, you will no longer just “exist”, you will instead “live purposefully.”
- A plan will make it easier to say “no” to things that are not as important to you. It can be difficult to say “no” sometimes. But once you have learned to say “yes” to your goals as outlined by your plan, it will be easy to decide which opportunities are the important ones. In other words, if an opportunity is not aligned with your plan, then it’s not worth your time right now and you can feel free to say “no” to it without any hesitation.
- A planned life will give you a sense of peace. You will no longer have to worry about whether or not you are making the correct decisions. So long as your choices are in line with your plan and bringing you one step closer to where you want to be, then those are the right choices to make. The peace of mind you will feel is extremely satisfying.
- Having a plan will make you feel more powerful. It not only gives you permission to live your life according to how you want, but it also gives you the tools to do it. You will feel confident in your abilities and powerful enough to achieve what you want.
- A plan also makes you feel more passionate. Anything that is important enough to become a part of your plan, is something that is important enough for you to feel passionate about. You will feel excited every time you realize that your plan is working and that you are achieving the necessary steps along the way to your eventual goal.
- Your plan will also help you to visualize a better future. You may not be able to see yourself living your ideal future life unless you plan how you will be able to get there. It’s amazing what you can envision when you have the right plan in place.
- Planning gives you a sense of freedom. It gives you the freedom to plan your life anyway you want, without having to explain, justify or obtain permission from anyone. You are free to plan exactly what you would want your life to look like.
- Finally, having a plan ensures that you will have no regrets when you get to the end. Because you have made the effort to plan your life in order to achieve the goals that you want to achieve, so long as you stick to your plan you can be confident that you will not be looking back and asking yourself “what if.”
Once you have the right plan in place, you will see what an enormous difference it will make.
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