Last Sunday evening, I found my eldest son sitting by our fireplace reading on his iPad. He looked at me and said “Dad, that wasn’t my favorite crux. You lost me when you started to explain your daily disciplines.”
He tried to soften the blow of his tepid commentary and I am sure that he felt as if he had hurt my feelings. He had not, however he had given voice to what I consider to be a near universal negative perception toward planning.
This negativity toward planning was present in my life. When I was a young kid, I remember secretly rooting for the hare to beat the tortoise when reading my book of fables. Even at a very young age, deliberate planning seemed unattractive to me. A decade later, I continued to resist serious life planning. I had decided on which high school and college to attend based mostly on the trail that my brothers and father had left well-worn for me.
As a teenager, I also had failed to recognize the importance of selecting good friends and that lack of planning resulted in many undesirable consequences. As a young adult, my life idled in neutral and suffered from a lack of personal vision. My resistance to making plans was habitual. I mistakenly perpetuated a belief that planning displaced spontaneity and that it would single-handedly wring all of the fun out of my life. Planning was what old people did, or so I thought and it seemed to me like it was the road to bland and blah.
In retrospect, my contempt for planning came naturally to me because no one had ever shown to me how to do it. Consequently, I never experienced its transformative power. In my early twenties, my life changed when I displaced the negative habit of resisting this important discipline.
My desire to revisit the topic of developing a well-conceived daily fight plan is born of my conviction that planning is of foundational importance. A daily fight plan is my way of telling the day ahead of time what I am going to do that day.
What most fuels my conviction for sound planning is the economic reality of my life. Like everyone, I have an extensive amount of wants, needs and desires, all of which clamor for my attention and I have only a limited amount of available resources and life energy with which to commit
I believe that in the absence of a plan, I can easily get caught up in the vagaries of others who are outside of my network of close family, friends and business colleagues. Honestly, I am rarely confronted with bad or worthless opportunities. To the contrary, in most cases I am presented with many exciting chances to have fun or to make a difference. It is just that these uninvited actionables are not always in alignment with my deepest desires, goals and values.
Long ago, a friend and mentor of mine gifted me with this definition of effective personal leadership: the progressive realization of my own worthwhile, predetermined goals. The point of last week’s crux had very little to do with the particular method that I use to plan. My bigger motivation was to reiterate the need for planning. The process need not be perfect either; it has only to create a protective barrier between the things that matter most to me and the unplanned urgencies of the day.
I may be closer to the end of my life than I am to the beginning… it is impossible for me to know. Regardless, I continually evaluate my progress along my life’s path and I ask myself whether or not I am on the trajectory for which I had hoped. Stepping back from the hectic pace of life each day in order to reach for a measure of perspective is invaluable. It keeps me in touch with the things that I feel called to accomplish. My time devoted to planning is a powerful ally and it keeps me focused in the daily pursuit of the things that matter most to me. I maintain this daily discipline in order to achieve my own worthwhile, predetermined goals.
Thomas “TD” Dierker
Live like you’re dying….cause you are!