Plan, Execute, Repeat

It’s been such a long time since the last blog post.

I hope you missed reading as much as I have missed writing and that you’re excited about all the topics we’re about to discuss this year.  To start things off, I want to let you in on one of the most significant lessons I learnt in 2019 – how to better implement a plan. 

Over the last 11 months, I have done so much more thinking and strategizing than I’ve done anything else.  I’m a thinker – a deep thinker, and so, sometimes it is challenging to stay out of my head long enough to experience the world around me in the ways that I should.  Which means I found myself crafting these detailed and elaborate plans but very rarely got around to turning those ideas into actual occurrences.  When I realised what was happening, I tried to stop planning and start doing immediately. Needless to say, that strategy was a bust. It turns out, as is probably obvious to everyone reading at this point, going from one extreme to the other in a short space of time doesn’t give the results you’re aiming for.  

After a while of switching between blind execution and extreme planning, it dawned on me that I wasn’t using my ability to think analytically in a way that was beneficial to my progress or future success. I thought, “If I can think analytically, and I can plan well, then I should be able to come up with a plan at any point in time.” Which meant (Ding! Ding! Ding!) I am capable of simultaneously or successively planning and executing.  

After some much-needed soul searching, I found that I was stalling on the execution bit purely because of fear.  It’s a little ridiculous now that I’ve thought about it in its entirety.  But let’s face it, it is far easier to talk about doing something than actually doing it. And I was trying to outline a solution for every possible risk factor and scenario before they happened.  But, as Murphy’s Law dictates, ‘anything that can go wrong, will go wrong’, and those are way too many things to put into a plan without any execution. Yet, too many possibilities to consider without first planning properly. 

Once that light bulb went off, I went to work. 

The first thing, and perhaps the most challenging, was to recondition my mind to view my trait of what many people refer to as overthinking as a strength instead of a weakness.  To do this I plunged myself into situations and accepted tasks where I had to think on my feet and think with the future in mind, at the same time.  Then, I found a way to focus on the simple things I needed to do to get things done and created an environment that made it easier to remain focused on the task at hand.  That way, my mind was locked in on both creating actionable steps and consistently following through on those actions until a task or objective was accomplished.  

Since I’ve implemented this system, I’ve found that my mind is not so cluttered, and I am spending more time indulging in the experience of navigating whatever task is at hand rather than stressing about what is to come.  I think, like many others, I would often forget that tomorrow is not promised. We’re so busy planning for a future we might never see we forget to take full advantage of the time we have at the moment.  My problem wasn’t that I thought too much. My problem was that I thought so much that I did nothing. But I learnt that life doesn’t reward you for the thoughts and the plans that you keep locked up in your mind and heart. It rewards you for the things you do and the things you create.  

A version of this article was originally published in the Chronicle Newspaper on 24 January 2020

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