Think about a project you aren’t making much progress on. Or a goal you’re not on your way to achieving. What’s stopping you?
To produce meaningful work, you usually need some combination of planning and doing. Planning helps you work efficiently on the right things and doing—well, that’s obvious.
So this project or goal. What’s preventing progress? Do you lack planning or do you lack doing?
(Or do you lack both? In this latter case, I encourage you to don your Sherlock Holmes hat and investigate your motivations. 🕵🏻♂️)
Someone who jumps right into things without a plan could invest lots of time and have little to show for it because she doesn’t have a solid strategy. She might haphazardly do tasks that don’t work together to complete the project or achieve the goal.
By contrast, someone who over-plans might spend dozens of hours consuming all the knowledge he can find on a specific topic. He might be keen to avoid beginners’ mistakes—a laudable tendency—but end up always wanting to learn just a little more before getting started.
When you think about your other projects and goals that have stalled, maybe you’ll identify a pattern. For example, I am a chronic over-planner. I have perfectionist tendencies and so I like to learn, learn, and learn some more to avoid making mistakes. Slowly, I am learning to do without excessive planning. I’ve discovered that it’s often more efficient for me to act without planning, make mistakes, and then to adjust.
Maybe you recognize yourself in this description. Maybe you are just the opposite. Or perhaps you can perfectly balance planning with doing, in which case: please share your secrets with the group!
So, are you biased towards action or towards planning?