Growing up I was never much of a planner. To-do lists felt like a waste of time and planning often seemed like it added more work than it alleviated – which of course is the opposite of the goal of good planning.
On top of that, I have always been good at improvising on the fly and playing jazz in my life, so it just never seemed like much of a priority to sit down and plan everything out.
As I’ve gotten older, my responsibilities have grown and my dreams have gotten bigger, I’ve started to hit the limits of where “planning on the fly” can take me.
Like many clients I work with, when I’m not intentional about what I’m doing with my time and where my life is headed, I start floating along the river of life and just hoping that things work out.
This is obviously not the philosophy of someone who wants to accomplish anything of substance in their life, so I’ve revisited planning in a major way and have implemented amazing planning that has changed the course of my life forever. Here are some basic concepts in planning that will change your life forever:
What – Why – How. In that order. These are the 3 questions that you need to ask yourself whenever you want to set a goal or accomplish something in any area of your life. The “what” is the exact result you want. This could be anything from looking amazing in a bathing suit, starting your business, making x amount in sales, etc. The key here is that you should have something very specific and measurable in your mind. If it’s not specific and measurable, then it’s hard to achieve or even know if you’ve achieved what you set out to do.
The “why” is really the juice in the whole process. Whole books have been written on getting acquainted with your “why” because it’s such a powerful concept. Without a compelling, emotional reason why you’re doing something, the odds that your plan gets abandoned and you end up floating on the river and heading wherever life decides for you become very high. When things get hard, you’re going to have to go to the reservoir of emotion created by your why.
The how, or the strategy, is actually the last and most flexible piece. I’m a firm believer that when you have the what and the why, your “how” becomes inevitable. Your how should consist of concrete things you are doing to achieve your what. Pieces of this are going to be what end up your calendar. If your goal is going to be to look amazing in a bathing suit, then your how (plan) will consist of things like “workout 5x a week,” “meet with your health coach or personal trainer,” and so on. You will constantly be measuring the results of your plan and adjusting the how accordingly.
Changing your shoulds into musts. We all have a hypothetical to-do list in our minds. For those of us who aren’t getting what we want out of life, most of these things are “shoulds” – stuff we know we should do but probably won’t. If you want to get control of your time and create a fulfilling life, these things need to become “musts” and end up on our calendar. These will be set in stone and not something you negotiate with yourself. If your goal is to write a book, but you’re not actually ever sitting down at a computer and writing your book, then 20 minutes a day needs to be on your calendar that you are writing that book. That’s the difference between an author and someone who just talks about doing something. 20 minutes where you promise yourself and your calendar that you’re going to do the work of an author.
Evaluate your time sucks. I chose the word “evaluate” intentionally. A lot of people think they aren’t supposed to a lot of the things they are doing. Maybe you watch Netflix every night when you feel like you should be working on your side hustle or reading a book about how to get ahead in your career. Before you swap it out, I encourage you to look at what you are doing and why. Maybe watching Netflix at night is the time you spend connecting and cuddling with your spouse. Maybe you have intimate discussions about the show or movie you watched and bond over your favorite comedy. Often these “time sucks” are really in service of some of your other goals – like having a close connection with your spouse and a happy marriage. When you are looking at the things you’re not supposed to be doing, maybe it’s time for a change in your habits. It also might mean that some of the things you’re doing are in service of your vision of what you want your life to be and you need to give yourself permission to do the things that matter.
Controlling your time, and being intentional with your time, is important if you want to be the author of your own authentic, amazing life. As it’s been said, a good life consists of good days. A “good day” is a day where your time is in service to the things you care about most.
Are you going to take control of your time, and thus your life, or are you content to just float down the river and hope for the best?
Your life coach.
The Andrew Warner Podcast: