If you want to make your dreams happen, a plan is essential.
Your plan should break down everything you need to do into specific, prioritised actions. Some people love planning and are happy to set out everything they intend to do, over a whole project or year, in one sitting. Others prefer to create a wonderful vision then plan in smaller chunks, for example monthly, quarterly or bi-annually.
Plan on a micro level too. Design your weeks and days so you prioritise your vision, make time for what’s important and live intentionally. It’ll help prevent the demands of others and general busyness crushing your dreams.
Planning is one of the most important foundations to success.
The four benefits of great planning
- Clarity – Setting aside time to plan allows you to create a clear path ahead. It’ll avoid you wasting time, missing opportunities and creating unnecessary frustration. You’ll get the clarity you need to take action confidently.
- Focus – A plan makes it clear what you need to do so you won’t need to stop repeatedly to figure out the way forward. This frees you to focus and be intentional, knowing you’re on your way to results.
- Productivity – By prioritising, you’ll take the actions that have the greatest impact and meaning first. You’ll also know what to delegate or delete, freeing up time to do what you love most.
- Confidence – By planning for success, you’re more likely to achieve the results you want. Reaching your goals will boost your self esteem and give you confidence. And, if something doesn’t go right, it’ll be easier to pinpoint what went wrong so you can take decisive action rather than be dragged down.
10 steps to a brilliant plan
There is no right or wrong way to plan but here are 10 great steps you can take:
- Know what you want – Create a vision board that enables you to visualise what you want from life and set goals that make it clear what you need to do to get there.
- Pick your timeframe – Decide whether you are going to plan out everything you need to do right now or simply get down the key milestones – the significant things you’re looking to achieve – and plan the detail for just a month or quarter at a time.
- Map out actions – In a notebook, list out everything you think you need to complete within your timeframe. The tasks don’t have to be in order at this stage. The most important thing is to capture as much as you can.
- Identify focus levels – For each action, determine whether it is a ‘Flexi Task’ (you can dip in and out of it or multitask) or a ‘Focus Task’ (you need dedicated time to work on it in an undisturbed space).
- Organise your timeline – Organise your tasks in priority order, sorting them into days, weeks and months. It’s a good idea to do this with a pencil in case you need to make changes as things develop. Star your milestones so they stand out and identify where you need blocks of time for Focus Tasks. You may want to create a routine.
- Make your weeks intentional – Make sure you’re clear on everything you need to do during the week ahead and imagine how great you’ll feel when it’s all completed. Believe you can do it. Set goals for your wellbeing, purpose, relationships and wealth to maximise fulfilment. Consider mapping out each week at the weekend or last thing on the Friday before so that, on Monday morning, you can get going right away.
- Design your days – It’s equally important to plan your days so you can live intentionally and make time for what matters. Do this the day/evening before.
- Consider the conditions – When you’re planning, be mindful about what’s happening in your life. Is there a big event (such as a wedding or career move) or major commitment (you have family staying for two weeks or your children are off for the school holidays) coming up? If so, adjust your routine or the time you have available. You may need to be creative or find new ways to work on your goals, for example getting up earlier to study or going swimming with your children rather than a yoga class alone so you can enjoy taking care of your wellbeing together.
- Embrace the unexpected – A plan is a forecast and holds you accountable for what you want to achieve but the future is never certain. That’s why your plan must be flexible. If a new opportunity comes up, look at your plan and decide if the new option offers you a better route to your dream or not. That should help you decide when to revise your path and when to stand firm. If a challenge or obstacle comes up, your plan will help you figure out a bypass that could still keep you on track.
- Review regularly – A plan should never gather dust. Reflect on your progress daily. It’ll allow you to capture lessons, the things you are grateful for and the things you need to let you go, helping to keep you motivated. Do deeper reviews weekly and monthly. Examine the progress you are making in all four of your quadrants – wellbeing, purpose, relationships and wealth. Reviews help you to grow.
Your plan is your map to your dreams. Let it be your guide every day.