Stop Focusing Only On Today (365 Days of Spirited Living – DAY 290)
(30 Things To Stop Spending Time On If You Want to Be Successful #22)
“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”
— Alan Lakein
There is value in a good plan. The people who succeed the most are those who understand how to think, develop, and work a good solid plan that is effective not just for today, but for days, months, and years to come. This does not mean they don’t take time to have fun and be spontaneous, but serious pursuits deserve a plan.
Successful people plan their hours, their days, their months, their budget, their vacations, their career goals, and even their retirement. A plan is like a guidebook on the road to somewhere while in the middle of nowhere. It helps you get to where you want to go. To the extent that not having a plan will cause more headaches, having one in place saves both time and trouble.
Planning can be fun if we make it so. But, still, most of us don’t like to plan. And that is most often because planning takes work and many of us would rather avoid any work that forces us to think long term. This is precisely what planning is: considering the future and analyzing current decisions based on long term results. And it just so happens that you can’t really focus on immediate fun without making time for productivity.
Planning and productivity require a healthy balance between work and play. Learning to make time for productivity and play, and still have time to think about the future and consider it’s implications will help you make more progress in life than focusing only on what today has in store. Short term thinking always impedes long term progress.
Science writer and editor, Jon Turney, said, “The future that comes to fruition does not just happen; it is made by us, as history. Living in the present now means living with a future-consciousness richer and more informed than humans have ever been able to benefit from in the past.”
We are told to live in the present and we should, but not to the neglect of the future. Few people live in the right now with the next in mind. Hand to mouth is a literal existence for them. And then when life happens as it so often does, they are stuck scrambling and rambling, spinning their wheels, without a plan. Without a plan, the find themselves short on money and late on time.
Some will argue that plans do not work as well in an environment that is constantly changing and evolving. There is some validity to that argument. However, proper plans that are properly formulated and well executed can enable you to complete projects, reach your goals, and see your dreams come to pass. Those who plan ahead find many benefits in doing so.
Planning allows us to take risks and to measure opportunities. Growth is often preceded by an expansion of our comfort zone. Planning gives us a level of confidence to be assertive and decisive and to move forward. A second benefit is that it allows us to be ready to respond to challenges when they arise instead of being caught off guard. Being proactive is important in order to welcome change.
Planning influences performance. Author Mark Sunburn writes in his book, Encore Effect, “Thorough preparation creates tremendous performances.” Good preparation and planning often results in good executions of those plans which results in good performances. Planning decreases stress, increases creativity, lessens conflict internally and externally, and gives us time to make changes if necessary and to focus on what we love to do.
You don’t search for the perfect plan, you create it. There is no amount of preparation that will make you perfectly prepared for every eventuality. But not having the stress of not having a plan can save you weeks of time and burdens and leave you space to accomplish beautiful things. Things rarely happen automatically or immediately. That’s why we have to be ready for when they do. It’s kind of like success and achievement. It comes after several years of sweat and toil, but never immediately. But when it comes, it comes and you want to have space to receive it.
Yes, live in today, but put your head into tomorrow. Looking at the future and what you want it to be helps you to keep your vision alive and revise it as necessary. It’s far that the path we set out on initially is the one we end up finishing. That’s why you have to plan. Planning gives you a path to take while at the same time leaving you open to opportunities that may come your way. People miss opportunities largely because they have no plan. Opportunities don’t come by sitting on your hands. They come while you’re on the way to reaching your goals.
The decisions we make on a daily basis are inextricably linked to the intents and experiences of a larger future that we help to create. A successful future is mostly built not on a necessarily successful past, but by making personal choices and taking individualized right steps to make that type of future possible. Everything in your life is not going to be successful. It is the little bits that make up the whole.
“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it.”
— Abraham Lincoln