“Success without planning, is luck” – Mike Dennis

This quote is a very accurate summary of the strong relationship between proper planning and success. The reality is that we cannot expect to be successful and achieve our personal goals in life, professionally and privately, if we don’t intentionally plan the important aspects in the short, medium and long-term.

Although we can’t predict the future, the future relies to a large extent on our ability to plan. Some short-term planning examples to explain this point might be that if I fail to take my car to the garage within the next week for its overdue service interval or to change my route to work to fill up with fuel at a service station, then the probability is there that I won’t make it to work over the next couple of weeks. My life could then potentially be disastrous from a short-term point of view, because I might miss that important new client meeting or an annual performance review with my manager.

If my short-term planning is not taking place, then I will at some point have a problem. The same though applies to medium and long-term planning, where the potential impact on our lives might be even greater if we are not serious about planning. This is simply because the things that we would like to achieve over longer periods, which will require more thought and therefore more planning, are typically important events that will have a significant impact on our life journey. A very good example here would be financial planning over the medium-term to save for a child’s tertiary education or long-term financial planning to have enough savings and other investments to be able to comfortably retire one day.

“Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.” – Francis Bacon

A plan is a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something. Plans are not real plans unless we put pen to paper. Otherwise, it’s only ideas. Documented plans obviously don’t refer to detailing routine activities, like brushing my teeth or plugging my phone into its charger. Documented plans refer to the non-routine aspects of our lives – things that are complex enough and that we are serious enough about, that we would like to document to reduce the risk of failing to successfully implement the plan. By documenting plans we not only reflect on what needs to be included in our plan, but we also ensure that nothing is excluded from it.

John Maxwell defines true success as knowing your purpose, growing to reach your maximum potential and sowing seeds to benefit others. Another definition of success might be that, if you look back at your life one day and you can smile with satisfaction in terms of having achieved what you wanted to achieve. You might ask yourself why we are talking about success under the topic of Planning. Well, it’s quite simple – our plans in life need to align with our definition of success.

“Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.” – Anne Sweeney

Your definition of success is unique and at the start of the planning process, each one of us needs to define what success looks like to us as individuals. If we take charge of our lives and we successfully lead ourselves, then we cannot let anyone else influence or even determine our definition of what success looks like. Your unique definition of success needs to be authentic, which will form the basis of the planning process for each of our lives.

“Wealth is not about having a lot of money; it’s about having a lot of options.” – Chris Rock

As part of successful planning, we also need to ensure that we plan to have different options available to us in life. Options in life give you peace of mind, it makes you richer and makes life easier, simply because you have more than one thing to offer this world. The simplest way of doing this is to either get qualified in some area that is in high demand or to learn a skill that will always give you the potential to make a living or a better living in your current role at work.

It does not matter how we look at it – the clever thing to do is to take planning seriously in our lives. For our sake and for the sake of those around us. To help us achieve success at work and at home …

Written by:

Hekkie van der Westhuizen, PhD.

“Look out for my exciting Self-Leadership book launch in August 2021”

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