It’s hard to believe 2019 is here already. If the new year can sneak up this quickly, so too can deadlines. It happens to all of us. So, let’s do better at planning to succeed this year.
Whenever I think about the concept of planning to succeed, tax-time comes to mind. Tax-time always seems so far away. And each year, after scrambling to get all of the receipts, W-2s and other tax related documents together, we vow to implement a better system next year and be first among our family and friends to get our refunds (we can all dream of getting a refund!).
But alas, every year we find ourselves scrambling because we put off planning to succeed at next year’s taxes. And this is a known deadline that happens at the same time every year – like birthdays, Christmas, etc! What about the deadlines that come up with less than 364 days’ notice? We have even less time to plan for those. Is there something we could do today to work toward planning to succeed in those things that we might not even know are coming?
Planning for Success
What is it about planning that we are so averse to? Do we secretly enjoy the thrill and drama of a deadline? [Will I make it? Will I miss the deadline? Who else can help? If I miss it, what are the consequences?] And even if we do get some twisted, secret enjoyment from narrowly making it in before the wire, wouldn’t we be much more productive if we weren’t regularly sprinting for a finish line?
Regardless of your reason for postponing planning, here are some suggestions to help you with planning to succeed this year:
- For the planning haters: Great news!!! There are people around you who LOVE planning. Delegate this to them. They will be thrilled for two reasons: 1) they get to do what they love and 2) your lack of planning can irritate and frustrate your colleagues who are planners. So this is a win-win situation – you don’t have to plan and someone else who enjoys this work gets to do it. You can simply say, “I’d like to leverage your expert planning skills. Could you prepare a plan and have it ready X days before I need it?” You likely were not going to think about a plan until two days before, so you too are stretching yourself to begin a bit earlier. And – the planner won’t bug you before the deadline. Secret tip – planners stick to deadlines.
- For the planning lovers: You can’t turn it off – you plan all of the time. And why would you turn it off? It doesn’t hurt anyone else to plan. It doesn’t cost anything more to think about plans in our head. In fact, most of us (yes, I’m on Team Planner) secretly develop plans so that we can effortlessly pull out a well-organized plan on a moment’s notice. The important thing for planning lovers to know is – everyone knows we are planners. And even thought it partially annoys them, it also it the thing that the planning haters wish they were better at.
I shared with a very good friend and colleague about an experience where I was having difficulty communicating with a colleague. He said, “Kristina – I know exactly what that person was thinking. Us non-planners don’t want people to highlight our lack of planning.” It had never occurred to me that my enjoyment for planning was not enthusiastically embraced by others. That perspective has helped me to look for opportunities or requests to share my planning work, rather than sharing it whenever I want to. Secret tip – timing is everything. Be prepared, but wait until you are asked to share your the plans.
Leveling Up: From Planning to Strategizing
No matter what level of planner you are, make the move from planning to succeed to strategizing for success. What’s the difference you ask? Great question! Strategy is choosing a path, where as planning is maximizing the chosen path. Don’t I need both? Yes – both to some degree is important, but it is strategy that will help advance your organization and planning will move you through the process.
Now, if you really want kick off the new year with a bang, start working on moving from planning to strategizing. The to-do list of your plan will serve you well enough. But, by moving from outlining the steps it takes to get something done to identifying and taking the most effective steps to achieve your goals, you’ll be helping your team reach its full potential.
Happy 2019! I wish you and yours health, happiness, and productivity!