Make A Plan So You Can Ditch The Plan

Jan 29, 2020 | Newsletter

“There’s a difference between going with a muse, going with what’s happening in the room… and never having a plan in the first place.”

–– Jason Crandell, on Yogaland

That line struck me from the most recent Yogaland podcast episode with Andrea Ferretti and Jason Crandell.

(I’m listening to 100 new-to-me podcasts this year as part of my commitment to question “normal.”)

Jason––who is my favorite yoga teacher on the Glo app––was explaining his go-to practices for preparing yourself to teach a yoga class. I was listening from the perspective, not of someone who teaches yoga, but someone who is regularly in the position of creating space for people to share vulnerably and transparently.

He went on to say that teaching a 90-minute class without a plan can lead to a lot of randomness. He said, “If I don’t know what direction I’m steering this ship, I get very uncomfortable.”

This idea of having a plan––even if, as Jason put it, you “throw it under the bus,”––to be fully prepared resonated with me. 

Whether I’m leading a mastermind session or simply working through an office day, having a plan helps me focus on what’s important, even when what’s important changes. 

Having a plan gives me a starting point. 

It’s my foundation. It’s a stabilizing force in what could––at any time––become an earthquake of a day. 

Instead of randomness and discomfort, I have progress and clear choices.

I think a lot of business owners think that, because priorities inevitably shift and new ideas make themselves known and wrenches get thrown in the works, there’s no point in having a plan. There’s no point in thinking ahead.

And as you read this, you’re probably thinking, “Oh, of course, having a plan is worth it. Of course, having a plan helps you stay focused. Of course, thinking ahead is helpful.” 

But do your actions back that up? Do you know it in theory but in practice do something entirely different?

You are in very, very good company if that’s the case. ​I’ve certainly been the “do as I say, not as I do” type on this.

This is how I ensure I have a plan every day now.

Last year, I started practicing the habit of using bullet journal-style page in Notion to manage how I get work done and move projects forward. 

Every morning, I started by checking in with what I had planned for the day, where my different projects were at, and what needed to get updated.

This year, I’ve upped the ante just bit by closing out all of the windows on my computer ​except​ for my bullet journal at the end of my workday. That means that the first thing I see when I start my workday is my plan––not email, not Slack messages, not the project I left half-finished last night.

That’s a commitment of about 30 seconds in the evening and about 5-10 minutes in the morning.

And, I have ​never​ been more productive or happy with the quality of my work.

I get centered and grounded by checking in with my plan. 

I hold that plan loosely so that, when things need to shift, I can easily deviate from that plan. But the plan is still my starting point.

When things change, I feel on top of the change… not at the mercy of the change.

Or, as Jason put it, “I don’t really question myself and I don’t get into the game of, ‘What am I doing?’, ‘Why am I doing it?’, and ‘Woe is me.'”

Making a habit out of planning and preparing helps you feel stable and truly capable of leading.

This is the kind of habit that all different types of small business owners can benefit from––The Over-Achievers, The Rebels, The Multi-Taskers, The Diligent Deliberators.

  • Over-Achievers need to cultivate a planning & preparation habit to avoid burnout.
  • Rebels need planning & preparation to create the structure they can experiment and play in.
  • Multi-Taskers need planning & preparation to ensure they’re meeting the needs of each of their responsibilities.
  • Diligent Deliberators need planning & preparation to take more decisive action and ship more of their work. 

That’s why planning and preparation are exactly the kinds of habits we’ll be guiding you to create during 100 Days of What Works.

As promised, I want to give you a better idea of what we’ve prepared for you.

First, as the name implies, the program is 100 days long––long enough to ​fully​ form a new habit.

Each weekday during the program, you’ll receive a prompt to start your day with (emails are being delivered at 6am Eastern). The prompt will take less than 20 minutes to complete and will focus on different aspects of discovering and doing what works in your business.

The program is broken out into 4 monthly themes, which correspond to key habits of successful business owners: reflection, analysis, evaluation, and planning.

Within each month, we’ll examine 4 key skills: restraint, consistency, patience, and courage.

And each day’s prompt will focus on a different area of your business throughout the week: Mondays are for marketing & sales, Tuesdays are for operations, Wednesdays are for money, Thursdays are for product & business model development, and Friday (plus the weekend) are for mindset.

Each day, you’re invited to share your work with the group, talk about what you’re noticing, and ask for support as you cultivate your new habits. We’ll be there with you every step of the way (because we believe in people––not numbers or algorithms).

You even get 4 live support calls with me during the program!

Our hope for everyone who joins us for 100 Days of What Works is that, by spending that small amount of time every day building the habit of focusing on what works for you, you can simplify, prioritize, and thrive.

The doors open for 100 Days of What Works on Tuesday, February 4, and the program begins on Monday, February 10. 

So… what’s your plan?

Host of What Works

Tara is a podcaster, small business community leader, strategist, and speaker. She’s been helping small business owners build stronger businesses for over a decade.  

Tara McMullin, What Works Weekly Newsletter

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