“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” -Alan Lakein
The idea of business planning used to make me cringe. I knew it was the respectable thing to do, but I couldn’t get my mind to think that way. Raising four children had taught me over and over again that planning is what you do while life is happening and redirecting you. I tried a couple of times early in the life of the business to imagine how I would know who I would sell to and how much, but it seemed more like divinity readings than my sketchy knowledge of tarot.
As the business matured I could see some patterns evolving. I was afraid to build plans around them at the beginning for fear that I would jinx them. Simultaneously the lack of a plan in business and with my kids was starting to get costly. All kinds of small mis-steps and larger consequences were avoidable if I only had some idea of where I was headed, or at the very least where I was not headed. Good ideas and the best of intentions is not nearly enough if you are trying to really get something done.
As things developed it also became clear that if I couldn’t imagine how I could make it work on a bigger scale, how could I sell the idea or manifest it? The plan became the vision explained. I realized one heartbroken afternoon that having a good idea is a long way from having a vision that you can act on and manifest.
The action verb of envisioning is the New Age talk for business planning, except the latter requires some MBA training on excel worksheets. The numbers have to pencil out on paper or trust me they will never work in real life. It is embarrassing how long I didn’t grasp the very basic reality of it. I remember one day overhearing my son’s cool basketball coach expressing the same sentiment as he pulled my boy off the court. He said, “If it doesn’t work in your head, how do you think it will work on the court?”
Thomas Alva Edison wrote: “Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning.” It isn’t just the powerful advantages of achieving success that makes planning so worthwhile. It is the freedom and ability to rest that makes the work of planning indispensable. The more planning that I do about my work and my family, the easier I rest. Even when you don’t get the results you intended, having a map for where you are headed helps you to know what didn’t work. It keeps you from repeating the same mistake again.
A. A. Milne explained the world in the simplest of terms with everyone’s favorite bear, Winnie the Pooh and sums up the need to plan a life when he said: “Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up.”