By Rhett Davenport
Planning For Success: The Why and How of Planning
Planning: a concept that sends shivers of dread down the backs of most people when it is brought up. How many of you have experienced this dread? I know that I have.
There was a point in my life where I heard the word “planning” and I would feel my heart sink clear to my toes.
Why was that? What made planning so dreaded?
For me, planning seemed like a waste of time. I would plan what I was going to do for the day or I would plan for an event that I wanted to pull together and it never went according to plan. Why did it always seem to go wrong? When planning for others to participate, I often ran into last minute changes of my plans from the very people I had planned for. I would spend what seemed like an exorbitant amount of time planning for something just to have people mess it all up by changing their plans. Soooooooo frustrating! I can see you asking, “so, what changed since then?” Well, it is simple. I learned the why and how of planning.
I finally saw its value.
Why plan? It seems like a simple question with a simple answer. In some cases, it is. But in other cases it can be more complex. When dealing with other people, complexities arise because other people have agency, the ability to choose into someone else’s plan or not. How do you plan for an event when other people are involved? The best way to plan around other people is to provide multiple options in which they can choose; even options we put into the plan for ourselves, so we have safety nets to fall upon. So many times, we make plans for a certain time or place instead of exploring other options.
Plans fail when everything rides on things falling into place exactly.
Imagine if we approached life the way that most of us approach planning. None of us would ever have an enjoyable experience because in life, nothing goes exactly as we want it to go or see it going. By planning with multiple options, you reduce the risk of being thrown off course.
What if you are planning a lesson or some other learning experience? All of us have had those teachers who were so easy to manipulate into a conversation totally off the lesson topic. We have experienced first-hand a de-railed lesson, perhaps even participated in one or more.
Here are a few simple tips to help us in planning for lessons so what we are attempting to teach has the desired effect.
1. Have an overall purpose/ theme/ desired end result. What are you trying to get across to others? If you have somewhere to get to, it is easier to put aside the smaller, less important plans to get where you want to go. Life is full of detours, but if we know where we want to go, we are less likely to get lost.
2. Don’t fret over the trivial things. We all know those people who are O.C.D. and must have everything right. When something goes wrong or not according to their plan, they have a mini stroke and can’t pull things back together. When planning we don’t want to get caught up having a panic attack over something that isn’t going to change the outcome. It’s not the end of the world if all our plans don’t go as we see them.
3. Plan for the unexpected. When planning, it is best to plan for things not to go right. When going for a hike, none of us plan to be attacked by a bear or other wild animal but how many of us carry bear spray or a gun as protection? Why should planning for anything else be any different. To be successful in accomplishing our end result, we can make sure we have all of the vital things to accomplish our goal. By doing that, we can ensure that we will succeed.
4. Have fun planning. Some of the best planning sessions I have had with others have come from us having fun. We have planned for fun events, inserted ridiculous and absurd results to our plans, and even written a short story in the middle of our planning. Make your planning experiences fun by doing what you enjoy doing while planning. Nothing is more boring than getting so laser focused on something that you can’t have fun. You may be planning for something important, but having fun is an important part of making successful plans.
By following these tips, planning has changed from a dreaded and even hated ordeal into a fun and exciting experience for me. When you are planning you don’t have to lock your visionary self into a closet so that the logical self can accomplish what it needs to. Fun and successful planning takes all of our personality traits. Planning, done properly, frees us and lets us turn planning into a fun experience for all.