The photo above was taken in Rehoboth Beach when I was 10 years old. Pictured also are my little sister, my uncle and my aunt. My family loves to recount the story of me pitching a fit on the road trip down to this beach vacation. There were about 5 or 6 of us in the car and we stopped for gas. Everyone unloaded from the cramped station wagon to stretch out when I freaked out because the back of the car was a mess – wrappings from snacks, junk, I don’t remember exactly. I yelled, “You guys! We have got to get organized!” And forevermore, that has become the reminder, the tagline, if you will. Whenever I begin to show any frustration. If things are messy or cluttered, someone yells, “You guys! We have got to get organized!”
I thrive on being organized and efficient. Yet, I struggle with long-term planning, which creates a weird dissonance.; an annual internal struggle. Me getting caught up in all the planning and goal-setting hoopla of every single January and me sitting down to do it and not being able to come up with a thing.
So. Earlier this month, when a colleague I greatly respect and admire invited me to attend a webcast session on annual planning, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to learn her process.
Here’s how it went. She showed us her plan. It was a gorgeous spreadsheet upon which I could feast my eyes with complex columns and sub-columns and broken out into quarters. She had sub-projects and tasks, oh my. There were color-coded areas and initials for champions and deadlines. Oh my. And as she walked us through this, all I could think was how on earth can I possibly think this far in advance to this level of detail? I imagined opening a blank spreadsheet and … nothing. Nothing would come. Shame. No way. It’s not in me.
Next thought. Adapt. I’m reminded that this is not the way. I can do this in a way that works for me. What is that way, I wonder? Still nothing. I can’t map out what I want my year to look like.
I mean, I can’t even map out what I want my day to look like.
This morning I awoke to a perfectly choreographed day of juggling household responsibilities with Patrick, like dropping my car off for some work and a day full of calls with a workout slotted in perfectly. And then, when we returned to the house after our morning dog walk, our house cleaner had texted to reschedule. My 9 am asked to move from 9 to 9:30 and my 11 am asked to reschedule to 3.
My brain went into freeze mode, and I had to readjust on the fly. Quickly, I snuck in a 30 minute HIIT workout in my spontaneously earned morning hour to make up for the lost afternoon hour. Which brings me to:
If I can’t plan my day, how on earth can I plan my year?
When I lived in Seattle, I had a friend who had a track record of bailing on social plans at the last minute. I finally got to the point where I wouldn’t even invite him anymore. Our joke went like this: “Oh, hi Brent, I was going to invite you to this thing, but then I thought let’s just skip that whole middle part where we make plans and work out all the logistics to the part where you cancel.” It will save us all the time.
That’s how I feel about annual planning. Let’s just skip to the part where it really doesn’t go as planned anyway.
So I focus on habits and routines instead of benchmarks and revenue numbers. I set inputs and outputs and hope for the best with outcomes.
And now that this is my final blog for January and New Years is smaller and smaller in my rearview mirror, let’s just skip to the part where we do us to our best ability and not let all the chatter about New Years goal setting and planning make us crazy.
PS. This goes for whatever thing is giving you angst today.
Thanks for reading this far.
A few things I consumed this week I thought you might enjoy:
- Robert Tighe talking to Park Howell in his Business of Story podcast about your origin story.
- Melinda Gates, The Moment of Lift – thanks to an attendee of my workshop this month for the share. Great read on how the Gates Foundation shifted from solving one problem to empowering women to solve many of the world’s major issues.
Take care out there,
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