Why You Need a Plan

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Planning, Success, and Making Things Happen in Business and Life

Why You Need a Plan - Business & Success, by Sarah BradshawSo it’s that time of year, right? When all the world is full of holiday cheer, twinkle lights, and gingerbread spice everything. It all makes me soooo happy!! As a wedding photographer, it means I’m in that final push to get work wrapped up (edits, album orders, client meetings, etc) so I can actually enjoy a peppermint mocha and holiday shopping. Right now work feels less like my dream job and more like those last five squats that your trainer makes you do after you’ve already done 20 more than you ever thought possible. “You can do it! You’re almost done! There you go. Now five more!” Muscles screaming, gasping for breath, can’t think about anything but the pain, and then you’re really done, and you can’t believe all that you’ve accomplished.

That’s what December is like in this industry. Every morning I get up and say, “Okay. You can do this. Almost done,” and everything in me says I can’t do it, but then I do, and it’s amazing. But things don’t happen on their own. I have to plan for them. I talk about this all the time, right? The importance of having a plan in place, and a purpose behind that plan, and setting goals to help you succeed? Even I, “Miss Intentionality” needs that reminder. Here’s how I put it to work this week.

In addition to the particular work challenges presented this time of year, for the last couple of weeks I’ve dealt with some weird (possibly muscular??) pain that has stalled my productivity. The only thing that resolves the pain is lying down. I haven’t figured out a way to edit lying on my side, so guess what that means? Yep. A giant pity party. Yay Sarah, the mature business woman who throws a little emotional fit because things aren’t happening as I want them to. Such a great response.

So I’m already trying not to mentally check out of work, I’m dealing with some physical issues that are preventing actual accomplishment when my brain IS on board, and now I’m just feeling sorry for myself, and binging on Netflix and Pinterest at the same time. AWESOME. Halfway through this week, though, I had a “come to Edna Mode” meeting with myself. You know, that moment when you say, pull yourself together!! with a couple of slaps to your own face? (Any Incredibles fans out there? Just me? Okay.) No more pity party. No more excuses. My clients are waiting on me. If lying down solves the problem, then lie down whenever it hurts, and then move on.

So I made a plan.

Tuesday night before going to bed, I wrote my list for the next day. A realistic list. I set up my laptop and arranged my Day Designer and glasses nearby, so I could jump into work as soon as I sat down. Wednesday morning I ate breakfast with my coffee, got dressed (instead of wearing pjs), and— this is what I really think made a difference— I put on lipstick. And it was the most productive day I’ve had in weeks.

But that’s not the point.


The point is to make a plan

Dwight Eisenhower once said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” The point of planning isn’t to guarantee an outcome (we don’t have that much control over our lives, let’s be honest), but rather to increase focus and intentionality along the way.

The purpose of a plan is to make sure we budget time well— not so that we can cram more into the allotted 24 hours we live in, but so that we have time for the people and things we value most.

The purpose of a plan is so to give focus to our endeavors— not simply to “accomplish big things” (though there is merit major accomplishments), but so we can use our endeavors to build a life  and invest in other people.

The purpose of a plan is flexibility— Mom said that countless times growing up. We plan so that we know when we must do something, and when we can throw caution to the wind and say, “Who cares? Right now, we’re doing this instead.” We plan so that we know our buffer, so that we can drop everything when our best friends needs a tea and tissues right now, so that we can rest on sick days instead of prolonging them with worry about work left unfinished, so that when our children say, “play with me!” we know we can.

love the way that The Rising Tide Society encourages members to focus on this. As Mumford & Sons sings, Where you invest your love, you invest your life. They’re holding a December Instagram Challenge, and today’s topic is “Less Work, More Life,” to encourage participants to keep their goals in mind, to “never get too busy building a business that you fail to live your life.”

The purpose of a plan is to live— I want to live deep, not fast. I want to build meaningful, face-to-face relationships with real people, not just online friends. I want to get to know my neighbors. I want our home to be a place of peace and refuge for our family and for anyone else who may enter it. I want to be marked by hospitality. I want cook from scratch as often as possible… because I enjoy it. I want to have deep smile lines. I want to love the life God has given me instead of wishing for something different. I want to start each day in quiet, with a journal, my Bible, and a cup of coffee. I want a strong body, a soft heart, and a listening ear.

And of course, I want more time with this handsome man.


Go Make a Plan!

It’s your turn. Why do you plan? Why should you plan? Not “you” as in the masses, but you as an individual. Why should you make a plan for yourself? And what would “living” look like, in that plan? Tell me! I want to know.

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comments +

  1. Grace McRae says:

    Thank you for this post, Sarah! This reminds me to take a step back and remember WHY I’m writing lists, budgeting my time, etc. It’s something I lose sight of way too often. Xo

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