When you hate to plan but know you “should”

Make a PlanThere’s no escaping it.

A barrage of offers and exhortations to PLAN THE NEW YEAR surround us!

Ugh. Really? “I’m so not a planner!” your holiday addled brain shouts at the mere mention of it.

I feel you and your pain; I was like that for many years.

Now I’m a non-plan loving planner and here’s why.

Being successful in business is hard. Planning, even minimally, gives you some control over your time, money, and sanity because you can see what’s up ahead.

Being in business requires things to sell, words that serve to enlighten people as to the wonders of said thing you sell, and people to offer those things to. These things are long-tail activities, e.g., you must do them in advance of any selling aka, making money.

And I hope you plan to make money. If you hope to make money but don’t have a plan, I see a JOB in your future.

Being in business can eat up every hour available if we don’t plan to have a life.

This week I’ll be meeting with a local non-profit I’ve decided to do a bit of pro bono writing for. I almost bailed on them. Once I’d met the powers-that-be and they welcomed my offer to help, they sent more than a few (un-asked for) emails requesting that I edit a letter or brochure with an all-too-close deadline. In the past I might have heroically (In my mind) come to the rescue, putting my work aside to work on theirs. I hadn’t yet mastered a way of planning that worked for me, the non-planner, so I responded to too many client and personal fires.

The result was too many hours working in and on my business and resentment at the thieves who stole my focus and time — not to mention profits. Now my business has both structure and flexibility, because too much routine and I get antsy and create distractions. And I’ve realized that thieves can only succeed when I allow them in.

So I boldly went where we all must go, even reluctantly; I had to set some boundaries, (another area of dread for non-planners I can attest). I told them I would like to have a meeting to review the projects they needed help with in 2019. I wanted to know how much time would they require and from there decide how many I would absorb. In an instant I received an email saying, “Great! Can you join our January planning meeting? We totally get what you’re saying about protecting your time and working most effectively for us.”

Where’s the easy button?

Speaking up for my preferred way of working rather than being pissed off each time I saw an email ensured that I control my time and allows me to do what feels good; no resentment in sight. Deciding you want to feel good about what comes through your inbox, messenger app, and voice mail is your right! Letting others know what that means is planning without the capital P.

Planning gives you freedom on many levels. And it doesn’t have to look like a spreadsheet, an expensive planning program, or a 5-year plan.

The first step for non-planners and planning haters — I wuv you — is to review what worked and what didn’t in the recent past; what you loved doing and what you didn’t but felt you “should” do it; one year is good.

Make time to do this. It’s powerful in ways you won’t know until you mine the data. I know my overall engagement is way down from my years in health coaching because:

1) I stopped writing weekly because I felt I didn’t know how to serve a group of people with diverse marketing needs so didn’t write at all some weeks;

2) I allowed client work take over all of my creative time so I got lazy about social media, videos, and attending events. I engaged with less people and didn’t feed my connector self. Not a great way to feel good about how I spend my time or to grow a business.

One thing that did work was reaching out individually to people who use speaking in their businesses to offer help with video scripts and their talks to make them more powerful and translate into business for them. I’ll continue to do that.

I planned time into my calendar to figure out what worked and what didn’t. Now I have time this week and next to plan my new ways of keeping in touch and growing as well as who I’ll reach out to and when. This is planning one step at a time.

Now, about that other thing, doing what you didn’t like but you were told or felt you “should” be doing it. I’m not talking about “you should do sales and marketing daily or weekly at least.” I’m referring to things like doing FB lives when you hate video and don’t know what to say. Or going to the same networking group you’ve been going to forever even though you never get business from your investment of time and money. Stop doing what you don’t see results from, especially if you don’t enjoy the activity. Energetically this is a bad idea.

What would be different for you if you came at planning from “how do I want to feel?” Let me answer that for you — EVERYTHING! Why? Because you’d find a way to feel good about your offer, your message, what and how you deliver your product or service. You might even feel excited about planning some time to work on copy or how you’ll do marketing to let people know about your business. Planning becomes the vehicle to your enjoyment and success.

Here’s something we all know: The best laid plans guarantee nothing. People shun planning because they have had plans that failed or they feel they aren’t doing it “right.” We will all have fails, epic fails, and magnificent fails. Remember the 80/20 rule. And doing something “right” is really important when you are learning to breathe under water with a scuba tank, less so when it comes to getting what you want in life. See yourself as someone who can plan like a champ and remember that life will get in the way.

Being in a successful business is hard. Planning doesn’t have to be. Start with small steps and throw out any old ideas about how it “should” look. You can’t do it wrong.

Just begin, expect great things, and watch your inner plan master come to life.

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