Start, Stop & Change: planning

Planning comes easy for many. Vision setting. 90-day business plans. Desire maps. All the scheming and dreaming.

You plan your year and your month and your day.

But sometimes… you get stuck in the planning.

You plan to build, but don’t build.
You plan to launch, but don’t launch.

You keep planning, but never actually start.

It’s like a photographer who plans an elaborate photo shoot down to the last detail, but never picks up her camera and takes a picture.

Planning can become a not-so-subtle delaying tactic. As in, look at me, I’m busy over here with my planner. I’m writing out my goals and breaking them into subgoals and making sure they’re SMART.

In other words: Look at me, I’m busy preparing. Intending to act. Meaning to act. Wanting to act.

But not taking action.

When mapping out what you’re going to do becomes how you spend your time, you’ve lost the battle with Resistance.

Creativity loses. Your inner critic has a laugh. And things stay the same.

At some point, planning has to stop and doing has to start.

So what about you? Do you have the outline for the thing you never write? Are you planning your pitch, but not making an offer? Has planning become a distraction rather than a productive way forward?

If so, my friend, it’s time for some straight talk: You’ve got a planning problem and it needs to stop.

Because when you stop (over) planning, you can start doing.

Keep in mind: The purpose of planning is not to have the most beautiful, elaborate, detailed plan. The plan is not the point. The purpose of the plan is to move you forward, plain and simple.

The plan is a best guess at what will get you from Point A to Point B.

And it’s only by taking those first steps forward that you see how your plan holds up. That you see where the plan needs to be tweaked and refined. Where assumptions were right or wrong. Where the plan missed opportunities or overlooked obstacles.

To spend too long planning means delaying the inevitable: The point at which action either validates your plan or sends you back to the drawing board.

Either way, it’s the doing that matters. The starting. And taking the very next step.

OK, time to get to work. Use this 3-step process to avoid getting stuck and stalled in planning mode—and get into all-important action.

  • STEP 1: What’s something you want to accomplish in the next 90 days? (Just one juicy thing. You’ll get the results you want faster if you focus). Declare your 90-day goal.
  • STEP 2: Take no more than 10–15 minutes and brainstorm every single step to get from where you are today to having accomplished your 90-day goal. Capture everything you can think of on a piece of paper. Big steps, small steps. Write them all down.

Optional step: If necessary, do some research. If you’re not sure the general steps it would take to accomplish your goal, spend no more than an hour doing research. Google is your friend, but don’t get bogged down or allow yourself to get distracted down the rabbit hole of the Internet. And if you don’t need to do research, skip this step and save the hour!

OK, so now you’ve declared a single, specific goal you’re going to accomplish in the next 90 days. You’ve also brainstormed the steps involved, and done any necessary research to fill in the gaps.

  • STEP 3: Now for the fun part. (Fun as in this step can feel tedious and overwhelming, but is oh so worth it in the end). You’re going to take every single step (as in every.single.step) and schedule each one. When you’re finished, every step necessary to accomplish your 90-day goal will be on our calendar. This means you’ll know the exact day and time you’re doing each step, and can see—literally by looking at your calendar—how your 90-day goal is doable. Heck, how it’s even inevitable if you simply do what’s on your calendar.

I’ll be the first to admit: This process doesn’t have a lot of fancy bells and whistles. It’s not complicated. In fact, you might be saying: Oh, that wouldn’t work. It’s too simple.

Trust me: It’s the very lack of bells, whistles and unnecessary complication that makes it so darned effective.

The proof is in the pudding, as they say (who actually says that?) So, here’s my challenge: I dare you to try it.

I dare you to stop (over) planning and start doing. Give the Stop Planning Start Doing process a whirl for 90 days.

It’s time to use planning as it was intended—as a way to move forward—rather than as a busy-making, status-quo maintaining distraction.

You now have a secret weapon for getting more done, more easily. I can’t wait to hear how you accomplished your 90-day goal.