3 Reasons to Always Have a Plan

Your group is in trouble. The situation seems hopeless. And then someone says it.

“I have a plan.”

Those four words can bring a sense of relief in the most dire situations. But why?

#1: Emotional Stabilization

Despair sets in when we don’t see a way out of a bad situation. But solutions are plentiful for most of life’s problems. But they must be planned. When you create a plan, your emotions stabilize because you have a way forward. 

Plans stabilize us in two ways. First, they are a potential solution. Second, they are a focal point, which leads to the next reason you should always have a plan.

#2: Clarity

Having a plan isn’t meant to be perfect. Plans will frequently be interrupted by life (Coronavirus interrupted a few plans). The primary benefit of planning is to create intent and to have an objective. 

Without a plan, you will float through your days aimlessly. The slightest nudge will send you barreling down a mountain of pain. It’s not that you’re weak, it’s that you have no reason to be here or there, and so are subject to the mercy of your external environment.

Plans bring us clarity about what we want, and perhaps even more importantly, they give us purpose.

#3: Purpose

Why did you get out of bed today? 

  1. Out of habit
  2. Waffles
  3. Unknown
  4. To enact your plan of world domination

Jokes aside, option 4 is the clear winner, with 2 being a close second. Having a plan gives your day purpose. It gives you a reason to fight through struggles. It gives you a reason to live!

Much is said about finding your long-term purpose in life. I find it’s more important to find a short-term purpose. We live day by day, and those who understand how to master the 24 hour time period will master life as a whole.

Creating Plans

It’s important to understand that plans are bound by time. 

“I plan to go fishing sometime.”

That’s not a plan, it’s a wish.

“I plan to go fishing this Saturday evening.”

That’s a plan, because you gave it a specific spot in your Saturday. Some might say that exact times are necessary, and while greater specificity creates greater intent, it’s not completely necessary. I and many others have had years of success with daily mini habits, which are to be done sometime within the course of each day.

Don’t make your plans so vague that it’s possible to never do them. I’ve planned to visit Greece for years, and haven’t gone yet. My desire was there, but my intention was too weak and my plans too vague to make it happen.

At the beginning of this year, I decided I would definitely go to Greece this summer (a plan that would need to be narrowed down later). Then the virus hit, so I didn’t go, but I was on track this time! While “this summer” seems vague, it’s not a problem because it’s a deadline.

Deadlines are the worst though, right? One reason I don’t traditionally publish my books is because the idea of a deadline turns me off. What if I need more time to make the book better? Some might reference Parkinson’s law, to which I would say, “Touché, I’m probably just lazy.”

But deadlines are a powerful, effective, and even enjoyable planning tool. They are integral to planning. The best way to know if you’re planning or just hoping to do something is this:

Do you have a deadline?

If you have a deadline, or some knowable time window for action, that’s a plan. If you don’t, that’s merely a hope or a wish (the kind that go unfulfilled).

My Greece plans were cancelled by the virus and the plan didn’t work, so now what? I’ve got to make other plans! Whenever your plans are canceled, just make new ones. Most of the benefits aren’t tied to the objective of the plan, they’re within the concept of having a plan for the three reason just covered in this article. 

Let today be the day you make a plan or plans. Get out a piece of paper or laptop and scribble down some ideas and timing. I  highly recommend short-term or medium-term planning, as that is the kind that brings the best long-term results. We live 24 hours at a time, not five years at a time. Plan on!

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