When you’re stuck, grab an envelope and begin planning


Here’s the sum and substance of a conversation I had with a friend of my neighbor. Given that we are both introverts, it was brief and to the point:

Bob: I don’t believe in planning.

Dennis: Hmm… What do you do instead?

Bob: I create options and see where they take me.

Dennis: It sounds like your way of planning is creating options to see what opportunities they provide.

Bob: That could be true.

That conversation reminded me that planning need not always feel overwhelmingly complex. At its essence, planning simply means having a worthy goal and always knowing the next step you will take to achieve it.

While strategic planning can provide a sense of overall purpose and direction, it sometimes inadvertently creates inertia and resignation rather than a sense of possibility, urgency, and energy.

That’s why it’s important that ambitious long-term plans be supplemented by simple methods that create and sustain momentum.

A common form of such planning is a “back-of-the-envelope” method in which a conversation or moment of insight causes us grab a piece of paper and quickly sketch a simple plan, usually just a goal and an action step.

When that step is completed, adjustments are made and the next step is taken, and so on until an important goal is achieved.

So, the next time you are feeling stuck, write your goal and the next step or two you will take on the nearest piece of paper.

You may be surprised how far that simple process may take you.

What methods do you use to maintain clarity and momentum regarding your goals and actions steps?

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