Plan Your Time; Why Take Chances
Successful people tend to become more successful because they are always thinking about their successes. – Colin Powell
PLANNING AND SUCCESS
You don’t find time. You plan for it. Planning is thinking forward in time. Plan your life. Your plans of the year, month and week will originate from plans of your life. It will be much easy to plan your day then. Each day will open a known chapter. When you finish each day in line with plans of life, you will develop sense of achievement and satisfaction. Each day will begin with a known todo- list. Fire fighting will reduce. The quality of life will change. Believe me.
Do you know each minute spent in planning saves four to ten times as much in execution of a plan? Don’t let events happen to you;make them happen. Plan them. Make a time-table for yourself as you expect from railways or airlines.
Victor Hugo said the following:
He who every morning plans the transactions of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the labyrinth of the most busy life. The orderly arrangement of his time is like a ray of light, which darts itself through all his occupations. But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidents, chaos will soon rein. My observation with thousands of people, with whom I have interacted during my workshops or programs, confirms that most of them are action-oriented and not plan-oriented. In their world, action precedes planning. Think how many minutes or hours do you spend in planning! Can you imagine how many hours are spent in planning a building before the first strike on the ground is made. Why should not the same process be followed each year, each month, each week, and each day for our life? Somehow in our society, the action and speed have first priority over planning and direction. However, understand clearly that speed is important and of relevance only after the direction is decided. Otherwise, it leads to waste of time and effort. If the direction is not right and the speed is increased, you will reach the wrong place faster. For effectiveness, let “direction” precede “speed”.
It may be difficult to predict future, but it is easy and possible to imagine and plan it. Planning helps you to take charge of your life to design the way you want. Unless you spend adequate time to plan your success and commit yourself to live the plan, life will become a matter of chance. A written plan assists you to travel your journey of “where you are” to “where you desire to be”. For smaller aims, the planning process may work in mind—and it works well. However, for complex and big size goals, the plan has to be written.
One major reason many people are not able to convert their wish into reality is that they do not know “where they are” or their “present reality”. You need to introspect and become aware of your present reality; and that is uncomfortable to most people. The other reason may be that they are living in their own world full of fantasies or rejections.
Yet another reason is that the process of wish conversion and goal setting is not taught by institutions and parents that well. In fact, for most people, identifying goals that will help them convert their wish into reality, is itself an uphill task.
Yet another reason is that people switch from one wish to another, not persisting enough.
You must perceive life to be an opportunity to add value to yourself and others. You must also see life as an opportunity to evolve to higher levels of consciousness. For this, you must plan your journey from “where you are” at the moment to “where you desire to be” in time to come. Time will keep passing and in the absence of this planning and implementing the plan, your journey of life will be on a directionless path. If you don’t design the events of your life, circumstances and other people will. Success, then, will become a matter of chance.
WHY TAKE CHANCE
Why should you take a chance with your life when you have vast potential waiting to be explored; not stagnate?
Why should you take a chance when you have the power within that is waiting to be unleashed; not get depressed or frustrated?
Why should you take a chance when you can make a choice to take up the responsibility of taking an initiative to change what is not acceptable to you; not blame or be casual?
Why should you take a chance when you can make a choice to create circumstances suitable to your needs; not suffer or adjust?
Why should you take a chance when you can make a choice to make things happen; not witness these happening or regret? Ultimately, your choice will determine the end result.
Once upon a time, there was a general, who was leading his army into battle against an enemy ten times the size of his own. Along the way to the battlefield, the troops stopped by a small temple to pray for victory.
The general held up a coin and told his troops, “I am going to implore the gods to help us crush our enemy. If this coin lands with the heads on top, we’ll win. If it’s tails, we’ll lose. Our fate is in the hands of the gods. Let’s pray wholeheartedly.”
After a short prayer, the general tossed the coin. It landed with the heads on top. The troops were overjoyed and went into the battle with high spirits. Just as predicted, the smaller army won the battle. The soldiers were exalted, “It’s good to have the gods on our side! No one can change what they have determined.” “Really?” The general showed them the coin—both sides of it were heads.
MAKING WISH A REALITY
We do have flashes of thoughts crossing through the screen of our mind at different times in the form of wish. “I wish I could have,become, or be…” is very common statement. Wish is similar to the lightning in the sky. It is momentary and directionless. It vanishes without any utility or purpose. Ironically, it leaves darkness behind. Setting goals does not stop at the wish point. It helps you convert your wish into a reality. Make a habit of writing your goals. Writing strengthens commitment and provides clarity. It gives you an opportunity to refer and recall. It is useful if you have to make a midcourse correction. Goal setting will move you from day-dreaming to fulfillment. Goals will help you decide your high-value activities. Staying more on these activities will make you successful. Annexure 5 to this book is “WiRe Plan Sheet”.
STEPS FROM WISH TO REALITY
1. Identify the impact of the wish not being a current reality or identifying the anticipated benefits when the wish will become a reality. This creates an emotional bondage that will intensify your desire. If you think there is no impact on you by not achieving your plan, chances are that your wish will remain a wish. It is the burning desire that plays the real role in converting wish into a reality. Remember, the critical difference between the champion and those who finish below the top is not so much a difference in talents, education or wealth, as the difference in intensity of desire. The benefits may be tangible or intangible ones. Your list of benefits must be meaningful to you. If the reward for reaching a goal is increased self-respect, or more prestige, or a higher
self-image, write it down. This is “your plan” and it will be meaningful only if it truly reflects your value system.
2. Set MASTER Goal. Setting a goal in an attempt to convert your wish into a reality generates a strong force for self-motivation. Make sure your goals are MASTER—an acronym for Measurable, Attainable, Stretch, Time-bound, Enthusiastic and Realistic.
Goals may be of long-term or short-term. There is a possibility that you may lose sight of long-term goals, say, a goal to be accomplished in a period of more than three years. It is preferred that you break down such a long-term goal into small ones of period of less than twelve months or so. A short-term goal is the one that is short in terms of the time span involved, not in the effort put forth.
Achieving short-term goals builds your self-confidence, enhances enthusiasm. You get motivated for using more of your potential and broaden your vision. A word of caution about short-term goals: don’t confuse them with low aim goals. In Gujarat, there is a saying that translates as: “You can be forgiven for a missed target; not for low aim”.
Make your goal a bit stretched. There is no motivation in a goal that is too easily reached. You cannot achieve bigger things in life without stretching yourself.
Some goals are of the nature of having (possession); others can be categorized as of becoming (position), yet some others may make you change in your being (person). Some are clear and vivid; others are indefinable and intangible. It is you who will decide to bring some kind of order and priority in your goals. Balancing your life needs setting up goals to cover all areas of your life; whatever you think to have, to become, to be. Goals of intangible nature can be made measurable by creating a scale from 0 to 10. The other way is to make the expected outcome measurable.
3. Visualize and write down the process as to how the goal will be achieved. The description of relation between the end result and the present situation makes you travel the journey mentally. Everything is created thrice: first in the super-conscious mind, second in the individual mind and, finally, by the idea becoming a physical reality.
4. Identify the hurdles—both external and internal – that can obstruct you in achieving your goal. Don’t fight shadows or create imaginary obstacles. Think of the possible hurdles with their probability of occurrence. Anticipate these based on experience. Keep in mind that you are not likely to reach your goals until you know about all the things that can stand in the way of their achievement. Make your list of hurdles as complete as possible. Real challenge lies in recognizing hurdles that should be overcome. The external factors based on experience are useful to be listed so that you can plan better. However, you have to be careful that you do not create a hypothetical list.
The internal hurdles are the ones that your perception, attitude, talents and habits will pose in achieving your goals. Solutions to the hurdles are introspective by nature. You should be aware of them or otherwise you may seek help to get answers.
Over a period of time, you will realize that the external hurdles are non-existent. In course of time, you will find you can overcome any hurdles by actions you, yourself, can take—by changing your habits, attitudes or perception. No longer will then the emphasis rest on outside circumstances becoming as external hurdles. All attention will shift to your own unexplored potential—to things you can control. Having identified possible hurdles, think of the solutions to overcome these.
5. Decide action steps—both one-time actions and recurring ones. One important aspect while deciding the action steps is that of the target dates. There is a possibility of the process coming to a halt at this stage if you do not plan for and commit to the actions required. Remember that definite plans motivate us and help us get definite results. Indefinite plans leave the matter to chance and get no results. Decide the deadline for each action you plan.
A deadline sets an urgency syndrome and alerts your body chemistry. Your observations and response get aligned to the actions subconsciously. A target date creates a challenge within you, and you respond to the challenge mentally. The deadline also creates a positive stress in you and forces you to move towards your goals with positive mental attitude, commitment and enthusiasm. You develop power of saying “no” to other demands on your time and prioritize your time for your goals.
One word of caution about the target dates. Remember, you are the master and not the dates. You can always make changes in your plans and change your priorities. The guilt feeling comes only when you procrastinate and are aware that you are shying away from creating possibilities to meet the deadlines. When for reasons like miscalculation, unanticipated circumstances or lack of information, the dates need change, you are the master and free to review and make an appropriate change.
6. Track your progress. In your journey of success, it is likely that you may go off track. When this happens, it is frustrating and time consuming to come back on track again. Tracking helps you know if you have gone off course and, thus, need to get back on course. The best way is to create milestones and check routinely whether you are on track. Tracking the progress on the actions you have decided to take for achieving your goals, is a surer method for you to be successful. Tracking the progress also provides you feedback on what works and what does not. You can, then, make any changes required to reach your goals.
Devising a measuring system also forces you to clarify your goals. Measuring progress may reveal that you need to modify your goals or also if you are working on the wrong goals. Remember, if a goal is worthwhile and is also the right one for you, there is an appropriate way to measure progress towards it.
Before you embark upon the journey from wish to reality, think through vision and mission of your life. Remember your goals grow out of these. Ask yourself:
“What do I want to be?”
“What do I want to have?”
“What do I want to become?”
“What do I want to leave behind?”
Just remember, most limitations are self-imposed. When your priorities emerge from your goals in all areas of your life in line with your vision/mission of life, more often you will engage in activities that can wait but are important to you. In the absence of a bigger “yes” for important tasks, you will automatically and by rationalization, indulge in activities which neither advance your goals nor give you genuine satisfaction.
The secret of happiness lies in engaging in actions aligned to your mission. You must know our basic nature in that of happiness. Only when we get out of sync with our “reason of living”, we are in a state of unhappiness.