Passion & Talent Aren’t Enough 2: The Importance of Planning

When it comes to being successful at accomplishing the truly meaningful goals in our lives, like college, marriage, having a child, buying a home, building a business, or pursuing a career, I can’t imagine any type of scenario where success in fulfilling these ambitions occurs by accident or by dumb luck.

A skyscraper isn’t built without a thoroughly detailed blueprint being formulated first, just like no shuttle launches into space without a team of literally thousands of people working diligently to make sure all the craft’s systems are functioning properly.

Even God Almighty Himself planned out the universe and His purpose for mankind before the act of implementation and creation.  So, being that we are in His image, the very essence of our nature as human beings constitutes that when creating or building something that is of true of value, we, most of the time, do a much better job if we thoroughly plan first.

I can only imagine how many millions of people are out there who are exceptionally gifted and who have all the passion in the world, but they never reach their full potential simply because they never learned how to effectively plan and set goals. Because, simply possessing dreams, talents, and passions only get you but so far in life.

And, it’s not surprising that plenty of people, in this day and age, don’t recognize the cruciality of planning and how dependent the success in multiple areas of their lives is on it.

How to thoroughly and effectively plan really isn’t taught much in our educational system.  If it is taught, only the most elementary of concepts are granted to children and teens.  Our public educational system provides at a surplus of tutelage on how to plan how to take tests and how to plan in the mindset of critical thinking within the confines of accomplishing academic goals.

But, when comes to teaching us how to plan in the areas of entrepreneurship, raising a child, or having a successful love life–aka areas that deeply play a role is us becoming productive and happy members of society, which we think  our educational system is  grooming us to become–our educational institutions fall severely short.

Sure, there are dedicated individuals embedded within those same educational institutions who are dedicated to equipping their students with the knowledge/tools they need to make the choices that are best for their lives, who go the extra mile in their instruction and who have the guts to teach outside of the pre-set curriculum.

Having worked in a higher ed myself for a number of years, I’ve had the privilege of hearing the perspectives of those who will be occupying our communities and our workforce in the future.  And, while helping them decide their degree plan and career paths, I noticed most of them had little to very little plans of what they’d do after they graduated. They knew they wanted a job in a particular career field, but they had no idea what steps they needed to take to land that dream job.

Because, we all know the Master’s is becoming the new Bachelor’s and that most jobs are looking for at least 2 years of experience, in many fields, before they’ll hire you, in addition to already having your degree.  YOU WILL NEED TO CREATE A PLAN TO ADDRESS THIS CHALLENGE.

Many of my writing colleagues want to become financially successful and even independent as published authors. However, very few have a detailed plan on how to accomplish this.  They have this pipe dream that, because their work is this divinely astonishing and breathtakingly magnificent miraclethe likes this world has never had the privilege of laying eyes beforeand this innovative concept never before thought of in the history of man, their work will go viral and that people will be trampling over each other to give them money to experience it.

Books, indeed, go viral but the few that do are truly an anomaly.  Most literary artists, although having natural-born talent plays a huge role, are successful through means unrelenting consistency,  high levels of professionalism and customer service, the effective utilization of technology, the profound understanding of the importance of networking, and having a knowledge base of tactical marketing practices. YOU WILL NEED A VERY  DETAILED AND STRUCTURED PLAN TO PULL THAT OFF, BECAUSE HAVING SUCCESS IN THOSE AREAS DEFINITELY DOES NOT HAPPEN BY LUCK.

And, understand in Paralysis by Analysis.  Of course, if you’re always busy planning every single little step out, you will have very little time to put the necessary work in to become successful.  However, incorporating some basic level to intermediate planning skills, when it comes to decision-making on the truly important endeavors of your life, can make a world of difference.

So, I wanted to share, with you all, some planning techniques I incorporate in conducting my own literary business initiatives and operations.

1. Tap into the true power of your mind by giving yourself a clear objective. This provides your mind with the framework, with which to operate more efficiently in, and it gives it direction, which helps your mind focus on the efforts that benefit your goals the most.  

Why do you want to sell a million copies of your published book?  Is it because you want the fame and prestige?  Is it because you want glory and riches?  Is it because you want the sheer joy of spreading entertainment to millions of people?

Be honest with yourself about why you really want what you want.  Me, personally, what I want to accomplish as a writer is written in my missions statement  of the “about me” section of my website–“…to utilize the language arts in a manner that most effectively portrays the many lessons of life, in order to most profoundly impact the hearts and minds of mankind.”  I also do it because I want to make money, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Challenging your audience to engage in the reciprocation of money for your efforts to compose supply them with quality literature and beneficial insight is not evil.  Just be upfront about it with your audience and with yourself.

There is a reason why most successful companies and small businesses have a mission statement.  The individuals running those companies know and want their employees to know and focus on what the primary objective is.  They want none of the company’s time and resources being spent on unfruitful tasks.  They have direction.

Before you set out to accomplish a major task in life, you may want to formulate a mission statement that spells out your true intentions behind what exactly you are and why you are choosing to do it.

Your mind is a wonderfully obedient servant, and it wants to do a good job for you.  You empower it to do just that when you give it specific parameters to go off of.

2. Make lists.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Well, there’s a trick to it I use that I’d like reveal if you’ll bear with me for a sec.

Lists are extremely important to make sure that all of the tasks your long and short-term goals require for fulfillment are accomplished.

Amongst the busyness of our lives, there is not a snowball’s chance on the sun that we’re going to remember every single little thing we need to do, on a daily basis.  That’s especially true if we’re sick, not getting enough sleep, are stressed out, etc.

But, even with a clear and well-rested mind,  like my cousin said to me once about planning, “I would rather trust a dull pencil over a sharp mind, any day.”  And, studies back up the logic behind his statement.  It is suggested that the brain processes up to 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts a day. There’s no way in the world we can effectively sift through all of those thoughts for the most pertinent ones, on a daily basis.

The best way to process that stream of thoughts and to extract the information most beneficial to us is to document it as soon as it scrolls by on that never-ending ticker in our brains.

Now, what I hear often when I tell my friends and family to keep multiple lists for different areas of responsibility in their lives is, “Well, I tried to keep lists, but I always end up losing the notebooks I was writing them in.” Or, I hear, “I forget to check the list when I got home, and, so, I ended up not doing the tasks I needed to perform.”

Well, here’s that trick I eluded to earlier:

What I do is I keep multiple lists for multiple areas of responsibility in my life.  For example, I have a “Literary Business” list.  On this list, I jot down every single thing that comes to mind that I need to take care of, regarding my literary business operations.

So that I don’t lose the list, I keep them on online platforms, like Google Docs, on my phone, or on flash drives.  That way, all I have to do is log into Google to access them.  I’m a big fan of physical lists, too, because there’s just something about actually writing down a task that helps you remember it better.  But, I understand, some people contend with the A.D.D. struggle, like myself, and have to make special efforts to stay organized.

As I’m working, if I think of something I need to do, I close out my work window, type the tasks on the list, close the window out, and, then, I click back on my work window to continue with my duties.

At the end of the day, I have a time set aside to review all the things I’ve put on my list (about 45 minutes), and I assign a date for those task on my Google Calendar.

In the morning, I just wake up and see what I’ve assigned myself to do for that day.  What I assigned myself could, in some cases, be something I told myself to do a few months ago.

This very simple method has proven to be very effective in harnessing the power of my stream of thoughts for in a manner that benefits me the most.

3. Have a calendar.  The aforementioned bullet point is related to this one, and this, perhaps, may be one of the most powerful weapons in your planning arsenal, when coupled with the practice of listing.

It’s one thing to say, “I want to be a millionaire some day,” as opposed to assigning the dates to the responsibilities and works that fulfill the steps needed to become a millionaire. Giving dates to tasks gives your mind a more concrete configuration to work within.  Because, how many times have you said you’ll do something one day, and it never got done, so you said, “I’ll do that one thing one day,” again and again in response?  IT’S TIME TO BREAK THAT CYCLE!

Oh, and by the way, if you haven’t taken advantage of Google Calendar, I don’t know what in the heck you are waiting on.  GC will actually let you program reminders of tasks you need to perform straight to your inbox, will let you program monthly or repeating tasks, and lets you share the calendar with friends and family.  Plus–and most importantly, it’s free!

4. If plans fail or you cannot complete them on an assigned date, then simply schedule them for another day.  It’s no surprise that life loves to throw unexpected variables at our plans, and that’s okay.

God has plans for us that we don’t always recognize at first, so it may be him interfering for divine purposes.  Don’t get discouraged in continuing the practice of planning just because things didn’t turn out like you want them.  It might be The Almighty pointing you in a different direction.

And, plus, we’re not perfect.  We are not going to accomplish all we set out to do.   Failure is how we learn and, in some cases, may be good for our growth and evolution.

Just because wrenches get thrown in your plans doesn’t mean that it’s time to stop organizing and mapping out your life.

5. Take yourself as seriously as you take your job.  In most cases, for 40 hours a week, most us spend more our time at a corporation or institution than we do with our families, fulfilling the dreams of our superiors–and, in some cases, superiors who we never even seen.

If we’re going to sit up here and obey our bosses’ every commands without question and stress ourselves out trying to meet whatever deadline they set for us, what sense does it make to not have the same discipline and to put that same emphasis we put on obeying our boss’ wishes for ourselves?

If anything, we should hold the authority of ourselves for ourselves in a higher regard, because, at the end of the day, we have our own best interests in mind, not our bosses.

If you set a date for a personal task to be completed, understand that you are your own boss.  Because, you may not get fired.  However, you WILL end up losing something more valuable–accountability and trust with yourself.   And, if you can’t count on yourself to get things done, then who can you trust?

With Best Regards,

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