Wherever you go in life is a result of planning.
I know what you’re thinking. What about the homeless guy? Is that what he planned for? Did he sit down one day and tell himself, “I’d like to be living under a bridge someday. It just seems more romantic than having an apartment?”
Planning can be elaborate or it can be pathetic. Maybe it makes more sense to frame it as choices we make. Planning is the umbrella that covers an array of choices. If you’re homeless, you made the choice at some point to give up. You also made the choice to deliberately not plan ahead. Then you’re forced into crisis planning, like where will I get food? Where will I sleep? How will I keep from getting freezing to death?
Remember that I am being quite general in the space I have here. Planning for the future means setting goals. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your success.
First, identify what it is you really want. It can’t be anyone else’s goal. Unless its yours, you won’t put in the effort to achieve it. Be specific too. Rather than saying, “I want to lose weight” say “I want to lose 50 pounds.”
Second, list what you will gain by reaching your goal. There has to be a payoff. That’s the reason you form habits. For example, you drink coffee every morning because you enjoy the feeling it gives you as you start your day.
Third, discover the hurdles that stand between you and your goal. If you want to lose weight, you’ll have to fight cravings. You’ll have to decide whether you will cheat or stick to your plan at social events where there is food. Overcoming those hurdles will require an alternative plan of action you implement over and over again.
Fourth, find out what you need to know and learn it. You might find it in books or web sites. Maybe you can consult an expert. If it’s a new skill, can you try your hand at it? Gaining the proper knowledge to succeed is like putting new tires on your car before a cross country trip.
Fifth, identify who you need to help you. It can be friends who support you by not tempting you. Maybe it’s your family giving you time to study after dinner. Perhaps your employer will support you with a flexible schedule.
Sixth, create an action plan. If you don’t take steps everyday to reach your destination, you’ll stay where you started.
Seventh, set a deadline. With no urgency, why bother? If you constrain yourself to a specific time frame, you will have to find ways to get the job done on time.
The alternative is failure. Why drift through life when you can take the wheel and go where you want?
The choice is yours.