What is planning, according to wikipedia?
Planning is the process of thinking about the activities required to achieve a desired goal. It is the first and foremost activity to achieve desired results. It involves the creation and maintenance of a plan, such as psychological aspects that require conceptual skills. There are even a couple of tests to measure someone’s capability of planning well. As such, planning is a fundamental property of intelligent behavior.
Coming up with new dreams and passions can be fun, easy and inspiring – at least until you sit down and begin trying to sort out how to actually accomplish these wild goals. Suddenly, what seemed like such a clear and well-marked path takes on the aspect of an overgrown and thick wilderness of dangerous, unseen pitfalls and endlessly branching and unmarked trails. It’s enough to make you want to crawl back into your boring old life and forget the whole thing ever happened. But let’s try something a little different, first, and see if we can’t tame that overgrown jungle.
One of the best and most thorough ways to figure out how to do something new is called back-planning, or top-down planning. You begin by listing finished goal at the top of the page, then working your way backward through each logical step that must come before the one above it. To do this, after every step you write down, yourself: “What had to happen immediately before this step in order to get to this step?” Be literal and very specific here – if your goal is to present at a conference, start with the standing ovation you receive, then list “give amazing speech,” below that, and “walk up and out onto the stage” before that and “get mic’ed up” before that, and so on. That way you discover all those niggling little details you might not think to think about otherwise (Is the stage accessible, if you have a disability? What sort of mic’ing system will they be using? If it’s a lapel mic, how does that affect your choice of clothing?)
As you can see, the more consistently precise and highly detailed your plan ends up, the better the chance you have of success when you put the plan into action. On the other hand, laying out the “big steps” can be a good way to get started, if that’s all you have – just make sure you’ve filled in the details and gaps before starting out. At some point, you may get to a step and realize, “I have no idea what had to happen to make this happen.” That’s when you know you’ll need to ask for help!
One important feature of this planning method is that it assumes success from the get-go. Rather than standing at the starting line gazing out in stark terror over the vast and unfamiliar territory between you and your dream, back-planning makes success merely a final step in the process and focuses your attention on the nuts-and-bolts of getting there. Once it becomes obvious that your previously hazy and distant dream is clearly achievable through a series of defined and reasonable steps, goals that once seemed out of reach are suddenly within your grasp.