“Why do people fail at achieving their goals, even when they have planned out the entire process?”
A reader of the blog recently presented the above question.
The phenomenon is quite perplexing, I must admit.
Every self-help advice there is, advocates that one must plan out the entire process, and carry it out precisely in order to get what one wants.
Why then, when one follows the said advice, fails to accomplish his goal?
Every step of the process he designs, is followed meticulously and cautiously, but all he meets is failure.
Where exactly did he go wrong?
The glitch in the process lies in the fact that reality is radically different.
The strategy proposed is extremely effective in terms of material acquisition- like having the car or house of your dreams, but fails terribly when it comes to entrepreneurial goals.
This is true for any and every endeavor that you might have- from starting a blog to opening a restaurant, to founding a multi-million dollar industry.
Writing out every single detail of how you are going to get where you want in terms of your entrepreneurship is a recipe for failure.
In reality, planning out the entire process and acting according to its every detail actually backfires.
And it hurts, both psychologically and even more importantly, financially.
The question here is this- what actually happens when you plan out the entire process and act according to it?
How do people sabotage themselves, unintentionally, while doing so?
Two major problems arise when people try to figure out the entire plan in their heads:
The first problem is that the planning process is quite addictive, but it isn’t based on pragmatism. It is based on theories.
There are plethora of theories floating on the internet about every field there is. With a couple of clicks, you have access to the amount of information that is impossible to consume. (With enough research, most of the time, the theories contradict even themselves.)
The presence of the colossal amount of information leads to a new age information disease known as Analysis Paralysis.
Analysis paralysis is the condition wherein you keep digesting all the information presented to you, instead of taking real-world action required to fulfill the goal being planned.
You keep anticipating all the possible situations that may show up during your venture, and you keep solving, tackling and remedying them all…on paper.
In your mind you think that you have somehow progressed-by analyzing and fixing a problem, which has not yet happened.
You convince yourself that you have moved ahead in the direction of our venture, when all you have done is browsed two hundredth and nineteenth article on the topic on book keeping, because you are going to be needing to keep track of all the transaction your firm makes, someday, if not today.
And here’s the bummer- you can keep anticipating and analyzing the situations, and still feel that it’s not enough. You would always feel as if you need more information, more knowledge about the venture you are about to undertake.
This vicious trap could only be set free of by taking action, instead of learning more.
The second problem is that the real life is subjected to change.
Assume for a moment that you have decided to open a cafeteria down the street six months from now.
You have prepared the menu and the kinds of coffee that you are going to serve to your customers.
But just a month before you are to open your cafeteria, you find out that a new cafe has just been inaugurated across the street.
If this wasn’t bad enough, you find out that this cafe shares almost the same menu that you were going to present to your customers.
These are the kinds of curve balls that life often throws at us.
In this situation if you decide to ‘stick to the plan’ that you had created, go by the book, and keep serving the same coffee, you would suffer a major loss because of the previously established cafe in the area.
Budding entrepreneurs are repeatedly taught to write a business plan, in detail and then proceed according to it, which in my opinion, is akin to digging their own grave in terms of entrepreneurship.
Here, I propose quite a different route to your goals- planning only the next step, not the entire process.
Planning only the next step and not the entire details overcome two major roadblocks one faces:
First, it helps to bypass the mode of inactivity ( analysis paralysis).
When a person turns his concentration on every nuance and planning to the minute details, he risks losing all his mental power in creating abstract theories, and remedying hypothetical situations, instead of utilizing that power and energy into actually doing the practical work.
Truth be told, you don’t need elaborate plans and strategies made nicely into a report to have your idea work.
In his brilliant book, The Millionaire Fastlane, the self-made millionaire M J DeMarco asserts that the best business plans are scribbled on a piece of a napkin of a restaurant, or a bar.
Second benefit of planning only the next step is that you enjoy more flexibility and adaptability in the process of your venture.
From our previous example of opening a local cafe in your area, it is evident that by providing your customers the exact kind of coffee that the cafe across the street is serving, you would end up burning your fingers.
This situation demands flexibility in your plans.
Therefore, instead of serving the exact kind of coffee that your competitor is serving, you could decide to serve dark coffee with vanilla sprites and hot-dogs, even having a kids’ corner, for children to goof around a little, while their parents enjoy the coffee.
You can change the course of action if the situation demands so.
The flexibility and adaptability to the situation allows you to supersede your rivals. This is exactly what you want.
Planning and creating the detailed reports actually end up making you its slave.
You go according to it, not how you want to, or according to what will be best for your business. This creates friction in the venture, and you will see your business degrade.
Plan only the first step, then carry out the process.
Most people hang on making the plan from start to finish.
They furnish their ideas and plans and make it flawless. Alas!The idea remains at only one place- their heads.
One must always only plan the next step ahead, and then focus all one’s all energy in executing the plan made.
Keep the entire picture but don’t plan all the way to the spokes. As a matter of fact,life doesn’t go as planned and prepared.You must adapt to the changing situations in life.
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Until Next Time,