Did you know that studies have shown that 85% of us don’t plan? In fact, only 10% do and another 5% simply wait to seize rare opportunities! No matter where you fit in these statistics, planning doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems.
Recently while talking with some friends, we talked about the upcoming year and our plans. One of the topics was driving along the East coast between New York and Florida. No matter who you talk to, most people try to drive the route in the shortest time possible. All told, the trip takes about 24-30 hours depending on how many times you stop to rest and refuel.
I’ve found that in life, most of us have the same mentality when it comes to planning. We want the shortest route possible between where we’re at and where we’re headed. Along the way, we’ll do whatever it takes to reach our destination, be it risking our health, squandering our reserves, and straining our relationships.
I know from experience. In my early twenties I drove my brother from New York to Florida- straight through, only stopping for fuel- and back! He wasn’t too impressed on the way down and was even less impressed on the way home. Thankfully, our experience was so miserable that I decided I’d never do that again.
You’re laughing, but is that how you plan? I’d be willing to bet that you’ve already been thinking about the upcoming year and you’ve been so focused on your end results that you haven’t stopped to think about what you’re going to do along the way. For example, if you’ve decided to diet, it’s going to be hardcore. You’re going to stop eating junk, start eating vegetables, cut your portions, and go to the gym 3-5 times a week. It’s not going to work!
Pursuing your goals without taking any time to celebrate or reward yourself is not just foolish, it can be devastating. There is going to be fallout. Taking the necessary steps to reach a goal is a wonderful thing, but more than just setting goals, you need a plan and that plan needs to include mile markers. Nobody ever climbed Mount Everest in one giant leap, it takes many steps and times of rest.
The beautiful part is you get to be the designer. Here’s how to start.
Decide where you’re at. Define reality. Mark an X on the page.
Next, decide where you’re headed. Imagine a clear mental image of what things will look like when you reach your goal.
X X Clear mental image of results.
Now, draw a straight line between the two X’s. To determine your ‘small wins’.
These are the mile markers between your starting point and destination where you will take time to reflect and celebrate! Chances are if you’re reading this blog, you’re not very good at celebrating. Chances are you’re a self-disciplined achiever and you’re always too busy working on the next win to celebrate.
As Stephen King wrote, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. If we don’t take time to relax and enjoy our successes, life loses it’s flavor. Before you know it, you begin to think life is all about work. The surprising thing about some of the happiest and successful people you’ll ever meet is that they recognize the importance of work and play. When it’s time to work, nobody works harder. When it’s time to play, they’re all in.
The question is how do you incorporate type B habits if you’re a type A personality? Good question. This is something I never thought about for years until recently. I guess the short answer is you have to schedule. Just as Holidays are marked out on the annual calendar, each of us have to decide when we’re going to come apart before we come apart.
If you’re a really driven type A person, you’ll have to begin by using the same discipline you already have, to make yourself take the time to rest and relax. Not annually, but monthly, weekly and daily!
It going to take more than an annual vacation for you and your family to stay in the race and finish well. You have to decide how you’re going to lead them to rest regularly and celebrate. Face it, celebration is a lost art form in the day and age we live in.
Jesus himself realized the importance of resting. Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.” He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn’t even have time to eat” (Mark 6:31). I wonder how many times you and I have ignored his invitation to do the same.
Again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t make plans for the upcoming year or set a few goals. What I am saying is New Year’s resolutions generally do not work. The reason they don’t work is because they are usually radical sprints with little provision for rest and small wins. Yes, they work for some, but not most.
If you don’t take the time to write down a starting and ending point with rest stops and celebrations along the way, chances are this upcoming year is going to end up the same way this year did.
Rather than expecting your pursuits to be easy, do the hard work of making a plan. Then, work your plan and your plan will work.
The last thing any of us want to do is get to the end of our lives and look back along the highway and see the wreckage of our friends and loved ones who tried to keep up with us but couldn’t.
Slowing down so that others can keep up isn’t just a good idea if we want our loved ones to arrive with us, it’s also a great recipe for keeping ourselves in one piece.
How are you going to reward yourself as you reach for your goals in the upcoming year?