“Nature doesn’t hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”
Most of us attempt to balance busy work activities with personal time. Sometimes we find ourselves fixated on perfection and future results so we don’t enjoy what we’re doing in the present. Did you miss your work-in practice today or miss sitting down to a nourishing meal? Did you not get a chance at any point to return that phone call, text or email? Did you play with your kids or sit and have a conversation with your partner? How about getting to sleep by 10pm?
“Busy-ness” is one of the diseases of our time and achieving your goals means recognizing opportunities before they slip through your fingers as well as those distractions that cause you to waste time.
Given how busy most of us are and how many goals we are juggling at once, it’s not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them. We want to be focused with laser-like precision on critical tasks and make the best, most efficient use of our time, but very few of us are as productive as we could be.
Instead, we are distracted by a myriad of activities, lost in our email inboxes, and too absorbed by unimportant aspects of a single project, when we’d be better off turning our attention to other things.
Today, I’m going to explore some of the ways that may empower you to expand your happiness through conscious planning so that you can truly enjoy and spend the rest of your life doing what you love.
When we make a choice to live according to our own living philosophy we are often challenged to maintain our chosen lifestyle. We make sacrifices that give us less quality time for self-care, family and friends. I see this often with students attempting to implement their values and achieve their goals and clients who are starting businesses or have been swept away by the demands of growing their businesses.
I learned a long time ago that the best way to achieve personal, professional and spiritual success is through the organization of activities through the seasons. How one chooses to structure their day, week, month and so forth is essential for managing activity efficiency. Although there are no guarantees, the tips I share can help you achieve a more balanced lifestyle and having fun while living it!
Why is structure important? It actually creates a strong foundation where you can experience more flexibility, not constriction. Once you have defined your optimal framework for your personal needs, you are free to implement any and all elements of your career and lifestyle so that you create flow between your desires in time.
“Planning without action is futile, action without planning is fatal!”
Planning is the process of establishing goals, objectives and means to reach them. Planning sets forth the steps leading to actions and it integrates your efforts. Planning identifies the resources required to complete the plan, and it precedes and ties together the other management functions of leading, calculating and organizing people, allocating money, energy, willingness and tools needed.
Planning is about being practical and thoughtful about all of the possibilities that may occur and it can even encourage us toward improvement because being prepared quells fear and inspires us to keep going. Plans, strategies, and resource allocations need to reflect commitments to your goals. Your plans are how you are going to accomplish your objectives and achieve your goals.
The planning process becomes the context for generating ideas and implementing proactive actions in order to anticipate needs related to individual, family and business potentials, receptivity to new opportunities or identifying expectations. The process positions you to minimize surprise – or at the very least prepare you for change, challenges and would-be crisis.
Planning for failure is just smart. But, there’s a huge difference between preparing for failure and thinking you’re going to fail. Planning for failure helps us anticipate challenges so we can prevent them from happening. By taking into consideration worst-case scenarios, how they may affect others on our dream team, we are all better prepared.
Let’s put the planning steps into practice:
- Get specific: Write down your goals. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there.
- Seize the Moment: Think about the specific actions that you need to take to reach your goal – be clear and precise. Decide when (day and time of day) and where (place) you will do your planning, and what actions you will do, in advance. Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300 percent!
- Use a calendar: Since I manage multiple businesses, I love Google Calendar because I can see numerous calendars at a glance. I not only schedule clients, projects but also family, exercise, recreation and down times, all of which can be color-coded.
- Ask yourself, “How will I know when I have succeeded with my planning?” Describe the moment (in detail) when you will know that you have reached your goal; focus on what you will feel.
- Mental contrast. Get specific about what obstacles may lie in the way of achieving what you want. Think about two positive aspects of reaching your goals and two obstacles that may be roadblocks. This skill is important to develop.
- Practice “if-then-planning,” the language of contingencies. When that temptation or distraction comes calling, how will you handle it? What will you do instead?
- If (or When) _____________, then ____________________. Once you’ve formulated your if-then plan, your unconscious brain will start scanning the environment, searching for the situation in the “if ” part of your plan. This enables you to seize the critical moment (“Oh, it’s 4 p.m.! I’d better return those calls”), even when you are busy doing other things.
- Set realistic milestones, monitor your progress, and know exactly how far you have to go. Create reminders for yourself in your calendar to assess your progress at particular points.
- Appreciate all your small successes each day. Perhaps the single most effective way to increase your confidence is to reflect on past successes. Notice subtle changes or ease with which you perform an activity and stayed on task. Keep your goals and intentions in mind, but avoid fixating on them. Don’t stop striving or become complacent – that’s the death of achievement success.
Through conscious planning you’ll create a journey as joyful as your destination with ease and efficiency. You’ll get things accomplished and enjoy those precious moments with your family and friends without the distractions.