You’ve heard it said before that “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.” It might be a popular old saying but there’s nothing but truth in it.  When you don’t map out a plan, you can’t expect to do anything but fall short of the mark, no matter how hard to try to pull things off.

Many people say that planning takes too much time or that it’s a waste of time.  Those who say this have probably had a difficult time when it comes to planning, are challenged with it and usually don’t know how to go about it, so their experience ends up taking them a long time or at the end of the experience they feel they wasted time because of the results.  Planning is used to bring structure, focus and direction.  Without it, you miss the mark.

When you don’t plan, you get the worse possible return on your investment.  The time that you spend in execution will take much longer and will decrease your level of productivity.  Without going through the planning process, unexpected things happen that you didn’t think about and they derail your efforts.  You spend time dealing with the unexpected, looking for solutions to put the fire out and get things going again while work is stagnated.  Without planning you don’t know exactly what you’re working on from day to day, every week and over longer periods of time so you play the guessing game on a regular basis or you get in the middle of doing a particular thing and notice that there’s something that you forgot to do—something that should have been done before you started working on your current task.  You also get to points in your process when you realize you don’t have something that you need.  That could be a tool of some sort, someone’s expertise or the remaining budget to carry out your efforts.  That happens because without planning, you don’t identify necessary resources.  Without planning, things move very slowly and often times appear to look as though they aren’t moving at all. Simply put, without planning, you shoot yourself in the foot, rather than hitting your target.  With all of this in play, there’s no place for your efforts to be fruitful.  You have planned to fail.

I know very well that some of this may sound familiar; it may even be the norm for some.  Just reading that previous paragraph causes discomfort for me, and if what I’m saying is the norm for you, I imagine that is brings you discomfort as well.  Having it be a reality brings even more and if this is the case, it’s time to flip the script and get a plan.  Doing so will increase effectiveness, efficiency and save your precious time. Planning will increase your productivity level by 25 percent and allow you to focus on your high value tasks, rather than putting out fires on a regular basis.  Planning will help you identify opportunities and possible threats and will facilitate achievement of your goals.  Planning allows you to make an investment of your time and get the best possible return on that investment.

So, the next time you choose not to plan before jumping in with both feet, think about the above scenario and ask yourself if that’s what you want as your reality.  Are you consciously choosing to fail in your endeavors?  There is absolutely no way to accomplish anything if you don’t know how to go about it.  Create your plan to support yourself and increase your performance.