You Need a Plan!

Any goal, whether it’s short-term like going on a weekend trip or long-term like completing a degree, requires a plan. But planning is not easy. It requires, more than anything else, a sense of self determination.

Ever since I was young, I have noted something odd from my Mexican mama… an unwillingness to plan too far ahead into the future. Whenever a plan comes up for the coming year, my mother invariably ends the conversation with “Con el favor de Dios” or “if it is in God’s favor.”

What this means is that she usually would prefer to avoid all conversation of that topic until said event is closer in time.

I didn’t understand that for a long time. I saw it as short-sighted and overtly religious. I would become frustrated by my mother’s unwillingness to grab the world by the collar and shout “THIS IS WHAT I WANT!”

It took me a long time to realize the truth. My mother has never really had the freedom of self-determination.

As the second oldest daughter growing up in a Mexican family led by a single mother, my mother’s life was not her own. Despite her talents as a folkloric dancer, an ability to get a scholarship to the Autonomous University of Chihuahua and a dream to become a teacher, she entered the workforce to assist her mother to earn money in order to support her younger siblings. She provided for her mother’s children from the time she was 18 until she turned 20.

At age 20, my mother had her first child, me. From that point forward, my mom’s entire life was about her children and their potential. She worked difficult blue collar jobs to ensure that her children had everything they needed.

She never had the luxury of thinking about her own goals. She has never been able to even contemplate “am I fulfilled by the work I am doing?” After all, feeding and providing for her children was what mattered. We were her fulfillment.

But, she did create that opportunity for my siblings and I. Understanding that, it has become very important for me to have dreams and goals, create and execute plans, and, most importantly, achieve the life I endeavor. Planning and succeeding have become joyful acts for me. For that reason, I have tried to learn as much as I could about planning for success.

How to plan

Planning for the future is necessary. There are several things that one must do to create an effective plan that will lead to success.

Think of all the possibilities

In our world, just about anything is possible. To begin making a plan, you must start with thinking about what you want. Once you have done that ask yourself “what.”

“What do I want?”

Understanding what you truly want out of life is the most critical thing to making a plan. So start by thinking what. Of all the amazing things in this world, what do i want most? Don’t be shy about it and don’t shrink from the truth. “To thine own self be true.” This Shakespearean quote is powerful because it demands rigorous self honesty. So, be honest, what it is it you want?

Next think, why? Why do I want this? Why is it important to me? This question is critical because it helps analyze whether or not you have the motivation to take the goal from idea to completion. Additionally, it will help you discover all of the ancillary things you can do to further your goal. For example, if my goal is to lose weight, thinking it through may help me identify that working out is nothing the only thing I must do to succeed. By thinking it through, I may identify “eat out less” or “cut alcohol calories” as additional “to dos” to my success matrix.

Write it all out

Writing out a plan can be fuel for success. The act of writing your plan can give you a sense of direction. Plus, it affords you the opportunity to check in frequently on thst goal. According to planning guru, Michael Hyatt, the success comes from the frequent check in.

Break it down

An important result that comes from writing your goals and creating a plan is the ability to break it down into bite size pieces. The break down will help identify all the pieces necessary to accomplish the goal. Returning to my lose weight example, I may determine that four actions will help achieve the goal.

If I see that change in diet, cardio, and lifting weights are the key to success, the break down let’s me pick one to start. So, after breaking it down and writing it out, I may determine that changing my diet starts on 1/1. I would then give myself a month or two to get that under control before I start cardio on 2/15 and incorporate weight lifting on 4/1. The idea behind this is to reduce the stress you create by wanting to do it all. Sometimes when you overwhelm yourself with goal, you don’t complete it because you try to do it all immediately.

Don’t stop

Lastly, to be successful in your goal, don’t stop. Even if you have a bad day or week, give yourself patience and remember that just because you did not do great today or this week doesn’t mean that you have failed. But, it means you have to say to yourself, I’m not perfect and even though I did not do the best today, I cannot stop until I accomplish my goal.”

This is the most important piece because you will mess up. But, if you remember that you cannot stop until you succeed, the occasional missteps will not make you feel like you failed.

Now it’s your turn, tell me…

What steps do you take to succeed in your goals?

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