As you travel through life, you’ll find that some of the simplest strategies are most effective. Here is an example.
A plan isn’t dynamic until it’s written down.
Let me give an example.
Most of us have a plan, the problem is we haven’t written it down on paper. For example, you may have a plan for your family, but I can almost guarantee you’ve never taken the time to write it down. The result is nobody knows the plan but you. It might be the most brilliant plan ever conceived, but you have to record it so that others have a blueprint.
This important principle occurred to me while working on post grad work. The classes I take require a final project to put in words the lessons learned throughout the semester. While the papers are very time consuming and difficult, they serve a purpose.
Here are some of the benefits:
- They allow you to go back and refresh your thinking.
- Others can study and glean what you’ve learned.
- They serve as a blueprint so that your team can pursue the intended goal.
- Your plan has the potential to out survive you! Others can read and profit from it long after you are gone.
- You can go back and tweak your plan without ‘reinventing the wheel’.
These are just some of the benefits. I’m sure you can come up with even better ones. If you do, please be sure to share them in the comments section.
Plans are nothing new. Jesus himself said, “For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” Jesus realized the importance of doing research before starting a project. In the words of an unknown author, “A failure to plan is a plan to fail.”
One of the things that sets great leaders apart from leaders in general is that they realize the importance of putting their thoughts on paper.
For instance, a friend I grew up with was a contractor’s daughter. There was one rule if she wanted to build something. The first thing she had to do was draw a picture of her intended project. Only after she had done so, would her father buy the materials to build. That’s a great lesson for all of us!
Rather than rehashing your thoughts everyday about your intended project, what if you took a couple of minutes or hours and put them on paper? Better yet, why not record them in a document on your computer? If you did, you would be taking a step many people never do.
One prophet in the Old Testament came to understand the power of this principle. Habakkuk writes, “The LORD answered me: write down this vision; clearly inscribe it on tablets so one may easily read it” Habakkuk 2:2.
Habakkuk, you see, was living during perilous times and the future seemed so uncertain that God told him to record the description of a better future to encourage him during the days between. Preserving a copy of your preferred future allows you to persevere when trials come. It ensures that you will be encouraged in the days to come as well as the team you lead.
Some people lamented that Walt Disney never lived to see Disney World, until someone came along and reminded them that Disney had indeed seen it despite his death.
Maybe it’s your Last Will and Testament that needs to be recorded. Imagine if you died today and there was no plan in place for spouse and/or children? I realize not many of us want to think about that, but it needs to be addressed.
One pastor friend I know wrote a book for each of his children to give to their future spouses. In it he recorded bits and pieces of their lives as well as their likes and dislikes. Unlike many others, their spouses had something a whole lot more reliable to depend on than trial and error.
How about an autobiography? It may never get published, but your future family might enjoy it. Now that I’m older, I have lots of questions I would have loved to ask my grandparents. It may even just be in the form of a personal journal.
Which leads us up to journaling? Admittedly, I’ve only dabbled with this for years, other than blogging the last two years. However, I still believe it has the potential to be life changing for some. You could even make a template on your computer or write one out to reference while you write on paper.
Questions might include
What was my biggest win yesterday?
What did I learn?
What are three things I’d like to accomplish today?
Are there any areas I’ve been neglecting?
What have I been learning from the scriptures?
Of course these are just some ideas to get you started.
Your plan and/or strategy may even become a book one day. Stranger things have happened. Personally, as a creative writer, everything I save on my computer stands to be a potential work. You never know, but the things you write today may be a seed for a larger work in the future!
With that thought in mind, always think of your initial writings and ideas as rough drafts. At first, just focus on writing the bare bones. For example, if you’re writing a blog post, just write down some of your key thoughts and flesh them out as you go along. This will alleviate writer’s block and help you overcome the inertia of staring at a blank page.
Next, file your final rough draft in the drawer for a day or two before rereading it and correcting mistakes and adding to it. In the meantime, your subconscious will go to work and make the process much easier when you write your final draft.
Beware of perfection. Everything worth developing in life takes time and effort. Your first attempts may be lack luster, but with time that will change.
In the meantime, while you’re working out the cobwebs in your thinking and writing, make time to regularly think about your future and write your thoughts down on paper. As someone once said, “The weakest ink is stronger than the strongest memory.”
Ultimately, writing is a lever that makes the hard lifting of thinking a whole lot easier for you and those you lead.