Over Planning: Playing it Safe Behind the Starting Line

Why can’t I reach my goals?

starting line

I have a foolproof plan, but can’t seem to get anywhere!

Planning to Fail

You probably know the saying, “When you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” After all, if we don’t know where we’re going, how can we get there, right? We are told over and over again, in business, with our finances, with weight loss, we need a plan! We are encouraged to be diligent in creating goals and implementing our plan so we can reach success. So does that mean that everyone who takes the time and effort to make a plan will succeed? Not necessarily so. On the other hand, planning but never acting, which is essentially playing it safe behind the starting line of life, is no way to go out and make things happen either.

It’s not that I’m against planning.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I’m what you might call an over-planner, even an obsessive planner, but therein lies the problem. With any plan, there will be stumbling blocks that get thrown at you, obstructing you from success, maybe in the form of fear, doubt, other people, or unforeseen situations. Think about it, if we set up camp in the planning stage and stay there nice and comfy, none of those stumbling blocks can reach us. But too much planning becomes a form of procrastinating, and yes, those stumbling blocks can’t touch us, but most of the time neither can success.

Beyond the Comfort Zone

That starting line is where I lived for much of my life, nice and safe. Recently though, I have realized that instead of letting life happen to me, I needed to go grab it myself. I’ve finally learned to stop hiding in that safe place right behind the starting line and turn my plans into action. What I needed was balance. As I get older, I’m realizing that finding that balance between the planning and the doing will get me much closer to where I want to go, and in a quicker time frame.

A Life Map

When I was 20 years old, I had my whole life mapped out. I actually wrote it down on paper. I made a chart of what year I would save enough money for a new car, graduate college, get married, have my first baby, have my second baby, and well, you get the idea. Ask me how much of that life plan actually occurred on schedule and in that order? Maybe one of them. I ended up eventually doing all of those things, but in such a different order that at the time I wondered if any of it would happen at all. Life was happening, but I didn’t seem to have control. My plan was seriously re-written as I went along, and so many other things I hadn’t planned for got added to the list. Career changes, divorce, health issues, they all had to be dealt with.

As a teacher, I don’t think my planning “gene” will ever go away entirely, which is a good thing. Over the years, though, I have improved a bit in that I don’t spend as much time over planning as I used to. My personal comfort zone still lies in creating lists, and visualizing goals for my future, and I have been known to venture into freak-out mode when a plan doesn’t work out, but now I seriously make efforts to ACT. It’s taken a lot of time and patience for me to learn how to be flexible and adjust to the bumps in the road, and I have had many. I also trust in God to ultimately lead me according to His plan for my life. With God by my side, I follow these three steps for helping my plans become successes.

3 Planning Steps: Plan, Act, Track

The first step in reaching any goal successfully is, in fact, developing a PLAN to get there. Diligent planning is important if you want to save yourself some of the stress that goes with flying by the seat of your pants, flowing whichever way the wind blows, or living day by day chasing a whim. We can’t stop there, however.

The ACT step is where the magic happens.

Any good plan needs execution. You can ‘t just sit on the couch watching The Biggest Loser and expect to shed pounds. You must get out and act. The better the plan, the easier this step is. If you’ve thought ahead, made some good SMART Goals, accounted for those inevitable bumps along the road (or at least some of them) your plan will start to materialize in no time.

The last step is to TRACK your progress.

Being able to recognize (and celebrate) success when it’s staring at you in the face is one thing, but so is your ability to make adjustments on the fly. When Henry Ford built the first automobile, he forgot to include a reverse gear. We all know today that his plan was amazing, and that his incredible invention forever changed our world, but what if he wasn’t able to adjust by making a second attempt, or a third, a fourth, or however long it took to re-work his plan?

People who are wise have a plan. But they also take action. They have a path and a direction forward to an abundant life. In 2 Corinthians 9:6, the Bible says,

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.”

The late Zig Ziglar also said,

“It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action, and discipline that enabled us to follow through.”

Lastly, I leave you with a quote by John F. Kennedy,

“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long-range risks of comfortable inaction.”

So stop hiding behind the starting line, execute your plan with commitment, take a risk, and run the race of your life!

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