Planning can be useless sometimes. Admit it, it's crossed your mind!
When you spent all that time planning to take that trip and it got cancelled. Or when you spent a year "perfecting" your website, and then you decided to do something else. They say life happens while you're busy planning... and they're absolutely right.
So I've developed a much superior system of operating.
Come a little closer...
I'll tell you my (not) secret.
It's not a secret that I always do everything publicly. My online friends and followers know about my projects months before they're ready. If you follow me on twitter, you probably even know what movies I'm watching and what books I recommend.
My life is totally public and it's not a whim, but a very smart strategy.
In the span of a few months, I managed to learn Squarespace, build my own website and brand, create some products, find new clients, and develop my own marketing blueprint. Had I been planning and preparing for it, I would have probably failed or gotten bored or scared, or maybe something would have happened to distract and derail me.
(This kind of public existence can be scary, but Brene Brown was right when she said we find ourselves in vulnerability. It makes you stronger, too, and prepares you for a life full of risks, opposition, and ridicule, which, typically is the life of entrepreneurs.)
Before you do or achieve anything, you must start, and in order to start - which is always a terrifying step - you need to JUMP. And just like in life, it's better to jump without knowing how deep it is or how high you are. As long as you're safe from harm, it's better not knowing what you're jumping into at the start, and even after that.
It's not enough to jump once. See if this sounds familiar:
I thought I was over this fear, but it keeps coming out of nowhere.
I thought writing would be easier after my first book, but it was harder.
I thought the worst was over, but it was just the beginning.
If you have uttered anything similar to those sentences, you know what I'm talking about - "the scary part" is never gone and "the hard part" just keeps coming.
So when should you plan?
Basically, you need to keep jumping and keep DOING.
The more you plan, the more time you waste, and the more likely it is you'll fail.
I know it's tempting to fall into the soft bosom of planning - it feels safe and comfortable. There are no surprises or challenges, only wonderful opportunities. That's great if you want to live in your fantasies, but you'll need a little extra if you want to make them a reality. In one of his recent vlogs, Casey Neistat said:
I don't want to be safe, I don't want to be comfortable, that's the fast track to being irrelevant.
Nobody wants to be irrelevant, and safe is overrated.
So get used to living outside of your comfort zone and jumping through hoops you never knew were there, on a daily basis. That's what entrepreneurship is. That's what living your dream lifestyle means. That's what making a difference feels like.
Now, I'm a huge fan of strategizing and planning because it's a vital part of business and marketing. But I only do it when I really NEED TO. My first thought is not "oh, I better plan this out", but "oh I better jump, see what happens, and adjust."
You see the difference? It's like the difference between thinking and doing.
You can think about a problem all you want, try to come at it from different angles, but until you DO something about it and test it out, you don't know which solution will work. Worse yet, if you don't jump, your fears might try to talk you out of the whole thing!
Yoda was wise. There is no try, there is only do.
We're different people.
I know there are people out there who LOVE filling up their planners for the whole year ahead and revel in the details of their plans. I don't relate to it because I'm the kind of person who prefers "the big picture" and improvising. Plus I enjoy the process much more than I'll ever enjoy any result, so it doesn't make sense for me to plan too much.
However, I do know the planners are out there, and that's awesome! Not to mention I adore pretty notebooks and colorful pens. Check out this "bullet journal":
Plans may not always go as planned. That's just as true for the planners as it is for me, but does that mean they're wasting their time? If you're doing something you LOVE, that's not a waste of time! However, if you plan and think too much out of FEAR...
That's a whole other story. It's what kills businesses before their inception.
Don't let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.
We all know there's no such thing as "perfect" and that procrastination is a big problem these days, so why would we ADD TIME between ourselves and our end goals? The ideal answer would be: we wouldn't. The real answer, however, is always different.
...is in your hands. I would never dream of telling you to stop doing something you love. Especially if it helps you get results and stay on track.
I'm just asking you to be careful of over-planning, that's all.
Anyway, you're a creative rebel, which means you might even have your own way of planning that works best for you. My way is sticking colorful notecards on a corkboard and moving them around when I need to. Now's your turn...