Hey… you’re trying. Like most people, you’ve got a great idea. If you’ve started planning you’re probably ahead of the pack. “bUT yOU sAiD mY pLAn wOn’T WOrK!!??”. I sure did… but hear me out.
Our ability to adapt is important in any plan. We must be able (and willing) to recognize changes in the landscape we live in. Your plan was great, but the environment that you created your plan for no longer exists. You planned with what you knew, but you must adapt (and replan) with what you know now. We can expect challenges (more on that later), but we won’t be able to plan for each one; however, we must anticipate change during the process. Remember when Facebook and Instagram shut down for a day? “Will they ever come back?” I thought, “the crux of my business plan includes these platforms. Now I’m screwed!”. I wasn’t prepared for that kind of blow to my plans. They came back (unfortunately?), but I adjusted my plans to continue meaningful and goal-oriented work that was not dependent on those resources.
So, you have a plan and you’ve anticipated adapting (right? You anticipate adapting right?… Buehler?). Now, you need a plan to tackle your plan. Ideally, your plan is detailed and more than a couple of paragraphs. Break up that plan into sections and strategize how (and when) to tackle each piece of this sexy puzzle. A “big” plan is great, but overwhelming to our little egos. This is how we break the cycle of demotivation and start to chip away at the big picture. We look at one little picture at a time. Plan how to tackle your plan. We’ll get there, but baby-steps are better than trying to muster up the strength to take giant steps that are less feasible.
Strategic leadership applies to all people. Whether you’re running an organization or trying to lose some weight. At the end of the day, we must be able to lead ourselves well. We can’t do that without other people. Any person wanting to become better in some aspect of their life can evaluate where they have been, where they are now, and where they eventually want to be. That evaluation is helpful, but endlessly skewed by our own insecurities (unfortunately) and our inability to see ourselves from other perspectives. Meet with people. Show them your plans and ask for their input. Better yet, find someone that has achieved similar goals and learn from their mistakes. There are no shortcuts to success, but we sure as heck can try and find less bumpy roads.
Believe it or not, most challenges can prove useful in the journey. I sure wish it didn’t happen as often, but my mistakes have brought me useful information. Learning from challenges, mistakes, and other shifts are part of the process. Anticipate this, know this, and welcome this— you will mess up. If we don’t use every challenge as an opportunity to grow, our broken bones and bruises are in vain.
Be mindful- “Mindfulness is commonly defined as paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally” (Pratscher et al., 2018). In this present moment, are you in love with the process? We may think that we’re in love with the goal or the desired outcome, but if we don’t love the journey, we’ll be miserable the whole way there. And that doesn’t even mean we’ll get there. So, if the possibility exists that we may not even hit our goal, why not find contentment in the process? When we fall in love with the plan, we follow the plan. Check yourself. Be mindful of your emotions along the way and develop a plan that is fun, exciting, and that draws you in each day to complete tasks.
Pratscher, S.D., Rose, A.J., Markovitz, L., & Bettencourt, A. (2018). Interpersonal mindfulness:
Investigating mindfulness in interpersonal interactions, co-rumination, and friendship quality. Mindfulness, 9(4)
Van Es, M., Guijt, I., & Vogel, I. (2015). Theory of change thinking in practice. Hivos ToC
Wang, V. C. X. (Ed.) (2018) Strategic Leadership, Charlotte, NC: Information Age Pub.