How to Avoid a Failure to Plan

Benjamin Franklin is widely attributed to have said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” I thought of this quote as I languished one Saturday morning. I could not determine what it was that I needed or wanted to accomplish that day. Benjamin Franklin was such a prolific writer, scientist, inventor, statesman, etc.. I wonder what prompted him to originate this maxim.

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I do not have my hands in nearly as many areas of life as Benjamin Franklin, yet I have discovered his adage to be accurate. If I do not have a game plan for making a day successful, I will flounder with a lack of focus. Failure to organize my thoughts makes accomplishing anything of value difficult. Unless I intentionally set out with the goal of rest and relaxation, a day without accomplishment leaves me unfulfilled.

Here are four tips I find helpful when I find myself stuck without a plan and lacking motivation.

  1. Exercise. Get active. I am a runner, but overcoming the resistance to get out and run is sometimes the hardest obstacle. In almost every case when I push through the resistance and take a run, I come back pleased that I made the effort. In this blog post, Michael Hyatt elaborates on three benefits of exercise. Although he relates these benefits to entrepreneurs, I think the applications are good for all individuals.
  2. Do one thing. I picked this tip up from Craig Jarrow, the Time Management Ninja, in his blog post about the subject. I love the last line of his piece, “One-at-a-time. That is how progress is made.” Yes! There is no need to keep waiting for something to happen. Take that first step. Start by doing one thing.
  3. Procure proper rest. With the birth of a new child, both my wife and I are lacking in the amount of sleep necessary for peak performance. I find that lack of rest leaves my mind sluggish and unable to focus well. This article on WebMD reveals ten side-effects of sleep loss that range from minor (forgetfulness) to severe (serious health issues and increased risk of death). A Gallup survey in 2013 indicated that 40% of Americans get six or fewer hours of sleep a night. This figure was largely unchanged from a survey from 1990 but drastically different from 1942 when only 11% of those surveyed indicated they slept six or fewer hours a night. The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
  4. Be intentional. As detailed in item 3, the necessity of rest is an important aspect of life. I want to make sure that a decision to rest and relax is being made intentionally. Choices are seeds that are being sown for a future harvest. The decisions I make should lead to my desired outcomes. A result foisted upon me by a lack of purposeful action has the real possibility of being unpleasant.

Failing to plan leads to lack of productive behavior. Slipping into patterns that lead to failure are not where I want to live! What will happen if I plan to succeed? I may not make it all the way to “success”, but I will certainly be on a better path than when I had no plan at all.

Question: What are some ways that you plan to succeed? How do you overcome times when you lack motivation? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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