A Disciplined Plan is a Proper Plan

Discipline practiced in the planning phase will pay dividends far larger than the initial resource investment.

The planning stage of any new goal is the first and most impactful stage to mission success. Armed with a good, actionable plan, the success rates of an individual or a team increases. This may beg the question, “What are the ingredients to a good plan?” 

There are many necessary ingredients and their proportions will change depending on the many unique factors and challenges that lay ahead; however, practicing discipline in the planning phase will significantly impact the quality of the plan created. The level of discipline in a plan can be seen in a number of ways. Three common displays of discipline in planning are:

  1. Defining the end point of the planning phase and stopping once that point is reached. Define the goals needed to be planned, to what level of detail, and what is to be left to field tactics along the path. The difference between planning (strategy) and tactics is expanded upon here.
  2. Commiting time and resources to put a plan together at the outset of the pursuit. It is tempting to jump into a new pursuit and figure it out along the way. This approach works for simpler pursuits with minimal moving parts, but in more complicated situations and especially if you are in a team setting, there are too many variables to be managed that decisions cannot be made “on the fly” without causing confusion and wasting resources.
  3. Taking inventory of available resources and skills. Setting the baseline for what is available and known against what will need to be acquired and developed to ensure mission success is a critical step in ensuring that the development of the plan will not overestimate existing resources and be forced to a limp by a weak assumption that cannot be realized. 

Point one is fairly straight-forward and so we will not spend a lot of effort discussing it. This is simply stating to define what the end looks like before one begins the process. Without this step, there will be no indication of when the plan is complete and enacting the plan can begin. This contributes to some trying to come up with a “perfect” plan or continuing to push off taking action because they are “not ready”. If one can define what a workable plan looks like and the high points it needs to hit, they can start taking action once those boxes are checked.

Point two is a little more interesting. This point is prioritizing the efforts needed to make a plan in the first place. Often, when one has an idea they would like to pursue, the automatic response is to dig right in and get going. They will purchase items they believe necessary, they will rearrange their schedules to create time for this new pursuit, they will start producing whatever output they feel is going to get them closer to the end. 

The reality of the situation is that this approach produces a lot of waste – wasted resources in the way of spent money and time that is not providing value to the end goal. 

A planning phase may be seen as wasted efforts in itself – it is taking up time and resources to put a plan together; however, more often than not, the resources expended to establish a good plan will pay for itself many times over in the form of saved money and efforts through minimizing pursuits of those things not in line with the plan.

Finally point three forces the plan to assess and have a real conversation with oneself about where they and their team are at, and more importantly, what will be needed to ensure the plan completes successfully.

Especially when pursuing a personal goal it is too easy to overestimate one’s abilities or underestimate the challenges that are involved in doing something seemingly simple. Ignorance is bliss – one simply doesn’t know what they don’t know.

The tendency to underestimate the time and effort required to get to one’s goals is common. Whether we don’t want to believe the amount of work we will need to put in to be successful or we think we can achieve more than we can, allowing oneself to create a plan with these poor assumptions is priming one to hit a wall somewhere along the line that they must then address while risking the possibility of getting discouraged and quitting.

This exercise will further inform the timeframe one gives themself to complete their goal and overall creates a more competent, actionable plan.

A disciplined plan followed by disciplined action will result in goals accomplished on time and on budget. 

You are not an exception to these common rules. Practice discipline, remain present and honest with yourself and create bulletproof plans of action.

Go forth and conquer.

Yours in strength,

-Jersey

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