– September to October 2018. Is it all in the journey or the destination? Of plans that develop a life of their own. –
We’re in October, autumn, pumpkin season, month two of project Wantrepreneur to Entrepreneur!
Had I originally ambitiously announced to reflect on my learnings about growing my business weekly, I have now reviewed the practicality of the idea and decided to do it monthly instead. This will give me more to talk about in each instalment and is also a better ratio of reflecting about development to doing something about development. It also made me think about exactly how and why we plan.
I love making plans, reflecting, evaluating and then some more planning. Which is weird, because with personal activities and adventures my heart beats for the spontaneous, unpredictable, ever-changing. But I seem to have evolved towards planning and routines more than I ever thought possible some years ago.
(I am telling you; all the life-changing magic of simplifying, all the self-development and self-growth stuff that I have been soaking up in the last two years have truly changed me and my life. But that’s a different story for another time.)
Why this is relevant to building a business or getting a passion project off the ground is the way it influences goal setting. Fail to plan and you plan to fail, right? Right. But.
Am I planning for my business to exist or does my business exist so that I can plan?
Scheduling and prioritising are hard and therefore a good plan is vital. But there is a fine line between when planning and visualising our goals is motivating and increases productivity and when it tricks our lizard brains into already feeling accomplished enough to receive the gratification it’s after. Spending day in and day out planning can have the same effect as telling too many people about your goal. Lizard brain thinks it has already achieved the thing, the reward system kicks in and the actual work becomes secondary to the picture that is painted of it.
It’s that fantasy version of the self that we have to ask whether we like the picture that is associated with the plan or if that version of us that wants to be in a certain place or fill out a certain role actually also likes the entirety of the idea enough – the planning and the doing – to put in the work to get and keep things moving. It might feel satisfaction when envisioning the destination, but will it also get satisfaction from the journey?
Me sitting at my desk, using my pretty stationery, being busy and feeling on top of things is a picture that I very much enjoy. But without the tangible tasks to perform to reach certain milestones, all of the planning and reflecting – as enjoyable as it will still feel – is going to be a rather empty activity.
It is easy to either remain in a position of fear of the journey, to stay in a place that feels comfortable or to get overly attached to one particular version of the outcome of it. All this might potentially hold us back from putting in the effort or might limit the opportunities we’ll be able to see and take on the way.
If we even make it to “on the way”.
We can easily keep ourselves busy for days, weeks, months strategizing and preparing, using all the techniques of successful plotting. But in the end, planning should be a tool to move forward and not a process that eats up so much time that there is none left for action and producing results.
But don’t underplan either.
This all might sound a bit sobering and like making plans and checking in with our activities is futile but it’s actually far from it. An epiphany like this one is quite the boost for motivation and could potentially help to get us out of our heads (and out of our comfort zones, too). As with so many things in life, it’s all about balance and awareness.
Are we planning and goal setting to improve our actions for the next couple of weeks, comparing our initial aims to the outcome of our activities? Ideal!
Are we planning and goal setting because it feels like we are doing something without having to approach that potential client or having to learn the legal requirements within our field? Not really that ideal.
But we caught ourselves doing it; staying in that place of comfort with all the ideas in our heads, unspoilt by looming difficulties or setbacks.
These are the times to get our heads up from the notebook and into the action. If we have done our homework and if we come equipped with an actionable plan we can take the next steps, even if they feel uncomfortable or don’t lead anywhere straight away. As long as we get (and keep!) moving, it’s all good.
If you’d like to keep reading about helpful and efficient goal setting here (coming in the very near future) to see how strategizing can help you achieve your objective.