The Importance of Planning by Janice L Dick

I get it. We all have different personalities. Some organize in their heads, others need lists, or at least words on a page to guide their thoughts. Whatever our preference, the bottom line is, we all need to plan.

Planning starts with goals, and they must be written down. Written goals help us focus and keep us on track.

Our goals are based on our values. What are my values? What is my purpose? What do I feel God wants me to do? What has He given me a passion for?

Tip: One way to explore our values is to ask ourselves these questions:

  • how do I spend my money?
  • how do I spend my free time?
  • why do I spend my time and money in these ways?
  • what are our three favourite movies/books, and what themes do they focus on?

What we are doing should bring us joy, fulfillment, satisfaction, and peace.

Once we’ve listed our goals, let’s figure out if they’re worthy of pursuit. We do this by making S.M.A.R.T. goals. In summary, each of our goals must be:

S = specific — what do I want to do? (I want…)
M = measurable — how will I know when I’ve done it? (I will…)
A = attainable — is it possible for me to achieve? (I can…)
R = relevant — why is this important to me? (I need…)
T = timely — what’s my timeframe to achieve this goal? (I plan…)

Pass each of your written goals through this system.
Here’s an example:

Specific – I want to start an email newsletter
Measurable – I will learn to create, send and grow my email newsletter to 100 subscribers this year
Attainable – If others can learn this, I can too. There are online resources and friends to ask.
(Kristine K. Stevens wrote a book titled If Your Dream Doesn’t Scare You, It’s Not Big Enough. There’s food for thought. We can learn what we need to know to succeed.)
Relevant – I need this marketing approach in order to grow my email list and reach readers.
Timely – I plan to become comfortable with my email newsletter format, send out an email newsletter every 6 weeks, and take an online course to grow my list.

TIP: Invest in a good day planner.
I get mine at Walmart. Coil-bound with month-at-a-glance as well as daily spaces. Large or small, doesn’t matter, as long as it suits your needs.

The ideal planner is Susan May Warren’s My Story Matters, which addresses planning, budgeting, goal setting, and so on, and includes a multitude of helpful pages to make this happen. (Unfortunately for those of us in Canada, the price of the book with our reduced dollar, and the shipping cost of the heavy coil-bound book, is prohibitive. If you find a way to get one without breaking the bank, please let me know.) Some of the planning strategies used in this post are from Susan’s yearly planner, garnered from a free online introduction.

Another thing about planning is that we need to be flexible. We need to revisit our goals regularly and see if we are following our plans. Perhaps something has come up that makes a certain goal unattainable this year, or the goal was too big for the time period we allotted for it. Details can change as we move forward, but the key here is to keep moving forward. Goals are tools for us to use, not something to bog us down. Time can be our friend, but we have to use it effectively and efficiently, or it will rule us, and once gone, it cannot be retrieved.

Every day is a gift; let’s use each day with due consideration of our values, our vision, our plan. The joy is in the journey.

Janice L. Dick writes historical and contemporary fiction, inspirational articles and book reviews. She also edits and presents writing workshops.

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