Are You Stuck in Planning Mode?

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” — Benjamin Franklin

We all know that planning is critical to success.

It’s no secret that things always go better when we know what we want, and know what we need to do to get it. That’s why we make to-do lists, and that’s why productivity software and paper planners are a multi-billion dollar industry.

But sometimes planning is the worst thing you can do.

I see it all the time. My clients come to me with extensive plans mapped out but they can’t figure out why they’re not making any progress. They’re stuck, so they assume there’s something wrong with their plan. So they re-work it over and over, writing perfect lists in their Bullet Journal and creating new boards in Trello. Then they think of another possible way to do things, and recreate the plan all over again.

It’s a really effective way to procrastinate

It’s so much easier to re-work the plan than act on it, don’t you think? A friend confessed to me recently that she thinks she’s afraid of committing to her plan because then she might actually have to do the work. This lightbulb moment was huge, because she realized what was holding her back and was able to move past it.

Here’s a process that’s guaranteed to work

1) Identify the outcome for your project
What do you want to happen? What’s the end goal? When you’re finished with this project, what will you have gained? It’s also helpful to identify WHY you want to do this in the first place. If you want to grow your list, ask yourself why. If you want to create a new product or service, ask why. That why will keep you going when you’re in the thick of it and you want to give up.

2) Break the project down into chunks
Write down everything that needs to be done for this project. Often we write down tasks when they are actually mini projects. For example, “write a blog post” is not a task, it’s a project. You have to come up with a topic, write an outline, expand that outline, find a good image, create a new post in your blogging software, publish it, then announce it. That’s at least seven tasks – more if you include the social media sharing piece.

So when we map out the steps for “write a blog post”, we can see that it’s actually a project. Without that plan, it’s no wonder you get stuck when you sit down to write.

3) Prioritize the first three things
Now that you have your list of all the things that need to be done, what are the first three things to tackle? What are the first three things that you need to do to move this project forward?

4) Implement the plan!
Yes, once you identify the outcome, break the project into chunks and prioritize the tasks, you do actually need to do the work. This is where people usually get stuck when they haven’t done steps 1-3 (but not you, because you did them, right?)

5) Celebrate the little things
We are so conditioned to focus on what still needs to be done or what didn’t go according to plan, not what we’ve accomplished and what went well. Celebrating your progress is like practicing gratitude. When you do it consistently, it will be easier for you to focus on the positive – and that boosts confidence and joy!

We use this process every week in the Women’s Success Circle. Do these five things consistently, and I promise you’ll see fantastic results!