28 May 2010, by A. Cedilla
- “No plan survives contact with the enemy.” – popular military saying
- “Prior planning prevents piss-poor performance.” – yet another popular military saying
- “Don’t forget to bring your towel.” – Douglas Adams’s fans*
Of these three sayings, the one about the towel captures the gist of this article perfectly. It’s when the plan hits the real world that you need to keep a clear head –and your towel close. Whatever life throws at you, when you know where your towel is, you’re good to go.
Goals are not plans.
Goals are the end point, plans are what you refer to guide you there. If the terrain sudden changes on the way to your goal, you need adjust and very probably go off-book.
Forcing reality to adjust to your plans is a waste of energy. Accept the situation for what it is, without judgment, and get going. What can you realistically do to deal with the situation and turn it to your advantage? Where’s the silver lining?
Plans cannot translate to real life without action.
All the paper and diagrams in the world don’t mean squat if you do nothing to bring them to life. Your monthly goals, your yearly tracker? You still have to fill those up, they won’t write themselves.
Plans cannot translate to real life without action. Action can’t happen without you.
How sure are you that the goals you have now are what you really need or want? How invested are you to making it to your goals? What will you consider as acceptable losses? What will you willingly give up to get there?
Your answers will determine how you’ll deal with the trade-off you’ll encounter on the way and how you can make the hardship worth it.
Plans do not equal preparation.
Plans are possible courses of action captured on paper, preparation is you carrying out the concrete action. It’s like money, in a way.
By itself in your wallet, a 10-dollar bill can’t do anything. In your hands, however, it can be exchanged for the things you need. But you still have to make the trade.
Build some slack into your plans.
Perfect plans are only perfect on paper. That’s because they stay plans, and plans are perfect in theory. When you apply plans to real life, real life trumps theory, and you must adjust accordingly. And adjusting is easier when you build some lee-way into your plans, whether in terms of money, time or labor.
Slack doesn’t mean sloppy. Or lazy.
Building buffers means you’ve acknowledged your strengths and weaknesses and you’re using them to build acceptable limits into your day and your life. You find out what suits you, whether what suits you refers to a schedule, a workload, certain kinds of people, a work environment etc. and you do your best to find them and make them work for you.
Failure makes us think.
Don’t be afraid to make small mistakes, they can help prevent big ones. Those, you have to look out for.
* The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy is a must-read trilogy (plus one) by Douglas Adams, the thrill of which we will leave you to enjoy discovering on your own.
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