Although this year I’m living it at 000, each day anew, I understand the importance of healthy planning. We are starting a new year, so I want this post to be about planning in 2014. Are you a perpetual planner? Do you love goal-lists, to-do lists, and planning? I know I do; however, I have to keep myself in check (pun intended) otherwise, I may become a perpetual planner, a living-breathing human calendar, and we all know that is not good. Why? Because you run a thin line between perpetual planning and procrastination by it. Too many To-do lists and planning may keep you from doing. Whether we use planning as a good tool to advance us or as a safe heaven to keep us from jumping into the next step is up to us. Here are a few tips.

  • Research the goals you have in mind. You need to have as much information to clarify your goals. Warning – don’t run into perpetual research mode.
  • Clarify your goals (know what you want and why).
  • Think of a time-frame to achieve the goal (when).
  • Think of a way to do it (or ways). This is the How.
  • Once that is clear in your mind, it is time to put it in paper, bits at a time, following your calendar schedule for the year. Time to be specific.
  • Avoid the double plan. This is not about plan 2; it is about over-planning or making lists on top of lists that end up confusing or derailing you (believe me, I know). Stick to a clear black and white plan stated in simple terms. Gray areas might open doors to exploration, which may lead to over-planning or derailment. This is why you make a clear plan and stick with it. Don’t get me wrong, exploration and spontaneity are good, as long as they don’t open the door that will take you away from your main focus.
  • Always have a plan 2. If plan 1 (yes, I’m tired of the phrase plan A or plan B) doesn’t seem to be working modify it without changing your main goals, that is unless you find out that it is not a goal for you anymore, and in that case, this is why research helps in the beginning. But we are human, and we change, so if by the first quarter of 2014, you find that you are not sure you want to do what you set out to do, don’t drop it yet; do a little more research, and then, decide (exploration and spontaneity may help here). Sometimes, a bit more clarification is what you need to put you on track.
  • Acknowledge your efforts, and celebrate each milestone during the year. This is very important. I used to ignore this step, and because of it, my sense of progress was clouded, opening a door for frustration. When you go back and see how far you’ve come (quarterly is a good way to do it), then, it is as a fresh breath of air that propels you to the next stage (even when you might be your own cheerleader). This is necessary but human nature will tell you to skip it and propel ahead – don’t.
  • Evaluate your steps every quarter (or whatever works for you) and readjust your plan as needed, but not by over-planning.
  • Whether you achieve your goal or are almost there, realize that you are closer to it thanks to your healthy planning, and congratulate yourself. If you hit your goal, celebrate! Understand that you are human, and you might have it all down on paper, but life gets in the way sometimes, and after all, living life is what you do best, so don’t be too hard on yourself.
  • Be grateful every step of the way.

Best Wishes for this year, and may you carry out your 2014 dreams.