Prepare to move on
Stage one was the decision to change. Stage two was where we became more aware of our situation. We now have a good idea where the inappropriate limitations are and what effect they are having on our lives. In this stage we are preparing to move on and developing a plan or strategy that will help us move on and start to blossom.
The basic premise behind planning is to firstly work out where you want to be, then work out where you are before developing strategies and tactics to help you reach what you want to reach. Sounds simple doesn’t it. In fact almost insultingly simple. Yet the reality is many people do not take a break from their striving to plan ahead then wonder why they don’t achieve all that they could.
Once we have a focus we can then find solutions or strategies that will help us solve the problems that we want to focus upon. If we know where we are aiming, we can then direct our efforts to reach that aim. We need to know what the problem is before we can come up with the solution. Think about a problem in maths. We have a question that we need to answer say “How many people do xyz?” Once we have the question we can start looking for the information that we need. It may mean doing an online search to find a list of statistics that we can then use to find the answer. We did not know that we needed the answer until we knew what the question was, once we knew what the question was we could go out and find the answer. In other words as the old proverb says where there is a will there is a way. Once our desire is strong enough to achieve the goal that we are focusing on, we will find a way to reach it.
Once we have changed our way of thinking we need to consider any practical issues that deter us from taking action. We all have a certain amount of talent, experience skills etc. If we are preparing for a particular role then we are unlikely to be a perfect fit for it during the preparation stages. We can work out where we want to be, where we are now and plot a route to get there. There is more about doing this in our course called “Deciding what you will do and how you will do it”. Once we know what we should be focussing on developing a plan to help us go where we want to go.
In that course, there is more about developing different levels of plans e.g. a life plan then a series of plans to help you develop strategies for different areas of your life then a series of plans that list the actions that you need to take to follow these strategies. Sounds complicated but it is just a way of writing out what many of us already have in our heads about what we want to do with our lives.
One of the aims of a plan is to look at how we will reach our targets. This can mean doing some research to counter any barriers that we have recognised. This is why it is important to make the decision to change the situation first. There are a variety of ways of overcoming barriers. There are assistive devices for those who have some kind of impairment. Developments in technology have made it possible for many people to overcome barriers that once prevented them from doing a variety of tasks. For example, people with visual impairments who use assistive devices attached computers can find that the door opens to a realm of information once closed to them.
Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich tells the story of the man who made extreme efforts to work with Thomas Edison the inventor. He did not know him but had such a desire that he overcome every obstacle to reach him. This included not having enough money for the train fare. He arrived on Edison’s doorstep looking like a tramp. Edison knew that if he was that determined to get there then he would be determined enough to make good use of any opportunity he gave him. To start with, that opportunity was a lowly one, as Barnes, the man on the doorstep, had to earn Edison’s respect. This was a chance to show what he could do and he worked hard. He was then well placed to take advantage of other opportunities he was offered. In the end, he became Edison’s business partner and as a result made his fortune.
Barnes had set his mind on a huge target but he knew that he had to take a step by step approach. He arrived looking like a tramp and was grateful for the lowly job that he was offered. If he had insisted on a more important role and insisted on starting at the top then he would not have got his foot in the door. Once he had got that job Edison realised that he could trust him with more and more. The same is true in other circumstances as well.
It is only those who have proved that they can be trusted in one role or situation who can be tested to see if they are trustworthy or capable in another role or situation. If we cannot prove that we can do one thing then it is unlikely that anyone will trust us to do anything else. This is why it is a good idea to start small. If we start a small project and build it up we will learn so much from the experience that others will feel able to trust us to develop the project further. If we can prove that we have used one investor’s money wisely to build our business then another one will be willing to allow us to use their money to start another project. If we apply for a huge investment or grant and we do not have a track record then we are unlikely to be successful. Develop a track record of success and others will be more likely to support us.
b. Developing our plans
There are at least three levels of plans that it is useful to create. The first is an overall life plan where we write down the all things that we want to be able to achieve during our lifetime. The second is the general plan where we detail the strategies that we are going to use to help us reach one of the things listed in the life plan. So we may have one general plan for finding a spouse, another for where we are going to live another for the business that we want to develop or the profession that we want to join. A general plan normally covers a much shorter period than a life plan say 5 or 10 years and looks at the strategies that we will use to achieve what we have written in the life plan. The third level is the day to day or month by month list of activities that we need to do to put that strategy into action.
Notice that these cascade down starting from the overall achievement then looking at the strategies before looking at the activities required. It was Benjamin Franklin who first popularised this form of planning. People wanted to know how he managed to achieve so much during his lifetime so used his writings to help them develop their own plans. We often think about planning like this being something that is used by those who manage businesses to make sure that the business is successful. Yet there is no reason why we should not prepare such plans for our own lives. It need not take long because often we will have the basic ideas in our heads. It often helps to firm up our ideas when we write them down. It is also useful to have something written down so that we can go back to it later and review our progress.