Beware the Seduction of the Perfect Plan

We all have that one thing we want to do. For some, it’s running a marathon, for others, it’s starting a business, and for a few, it’s getting off the couch at half-time.

So, you start planning. You research the best running shoes, download business plans, and determine whether it’s better to do the bathroom or fridge first.

Then, the doubts start creeping in.  What if it rains when I’m training, what if I can’t get funding, what if someone else gets to the bathroom first. You star scenario planning. If it rains I can train on the treadmill, I can shoestring it if no-one wants to invest, I can grab the beers and then come back past the loo. And that scenario leads to a whole new set of problems, and new options and new problems and so on.  

You come up with plan As, plan Bs, plan WCs and before long, the plan becomes all that exists.  You miss your opportunity. The marathon happens without you, someone else takes your idea, the second half starts, and you’re left with an empty beer and a full bladder.

This is the pitfall of the planning phase. And the one most likely to cause you to fail. But how to avoid it?

One way is to make sure that the thing you say you want is the thing you really want. Maybe it’s not running the marathon that’s important, but being able to play with you kids for a whole weekend.  Maybe the beer would be nice, but finding that comfortable spot on the couch took you most of the first half, and moving now would destroy all that effort.

Or, you could put a time limit on planning. I’ll start running on Monday, I’ll send my business plan to investors, I’ll make a dash after the second advert.

Finally, you could just pick something and do it, after all, to run a marathon you have to take 42 000 steps, if you want to run a business, you have to make sure you create and sell a product, and if you want that cold beer, you’re going to have to make space for it.

What are you waiting for? Take that plan, put a couple of action steps on your to do list, and start crossing them out. Before you know it, you’ll have accomplishments, not plans!

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