Making Plans Personal

If you search online for “best business plan” you come up with about 500 million answers. Financial plan gives you about 200 million answers, and fitness plan gives you about 400 million. Believe me, I looked.

Many of the answers you see include phrases like, billion dollar business plan, the only business plan you will ever need, the financial plan that will guarantee your future, the number one way to lose weight and millions of other similar answers. Yet, with so many potential “right” answers, the success rate of all of these is abysmal.

The persistent and ever present failure rate of almost all types of planning has less to do with bad strategies, poor planning outlines, or bad ideas. In fact, a large percentage of those plans worked very well for a lot of people. So why do so many still continue to fail? It often depends on whether or not we understand how to make a plan our own.

Here are three ways to do just that.

1. Prepare for the hardships. Most plans start out with a Utopian perspective on the future. Whether it is how we are going to start going to the gym every single day, save 30% of our income, or making the next Facebook. Eventually, the realities of daily life hit, find us unprepared, and we quit.
To increase the chances of success, be honest about the potential hardships that you will face and have a contingency plan for dealing with them. Thinking through those hardships will also force you to consider whether it is worth the effort or not. If you wait till the hardship, it is too late.

2. Identify yourself in the plan. So often we see someone on TV or simply another friend of ours finding success with something and begin to feel like that is exactly what we need, only to become frustrated with the fact that we hate it. I played football for years because everyone else was doing it. When I finally began running, something my body was much more suited for, I became much more happy and successful.
The plans we have should include something about our strengths in the process. They should take into account what we are good at, what we get excited to do, and what has worked for us in the past. There are 400 million ways to do it “right” find the one that speaks to your natural abilities.

3. Make the goals your own. When setting goals, take some time to consider if they are being created because you saw someone else achieve them or because you think you are supposed to achieve them. Either one is a trap.
Our goals should be extensions of our highest priorities and values. These are unique to each individual. The more connected the goal is with the person you want to be and the things you believe the easier it will be to follow through on them. Don’t just consider if the goal excites you, consider if the achievement of the goal will make you feel the pride and fullness that comes with committing to an ideal bigger than yourself.

While the nature of planning has not changed dramatically in the last fifty years, how we go about it has. There are simply more options and access to information now than ever before. More plans to choose from, more goals to achieve, and more “right” ways to do anything than we can even comprehend.

The change places the emphasis on planning squarely in making those plans unique to our individual strengths, values and natural abilities. Those that can make the plans personal have the best potential for success.

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