“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
~ Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland
Some people take Alice’s approach to annual planning and then wonder why they aren’t meeting their goals. There is something to be said for letting the wind blow you in a particular direction, but not if you’re trying to get somewhere in particular. Yesterday, coming out of lunch with two friends, the weather turned blustery and a big gust of wind came right at us, pushing us away from the parking lot. Our lunch was over and we had other places to go, and if we let the wind guide us we would have been lost and tired and dirty.
For the new year, I like to start with a rough plan. If you make a plan with too much detail, first you spend too much time writing it and then too much time revising it when things change. Knowing every step you take is unnecessary when you first start to plan, just like when you’re planning a road trip. You know where you’re starting and where you’re ending, and you probably will decide a few towns to stop for lunch or bathroom breaks, and if it’s a long trip you have booked the appropriate number of hotels/motels, etc.
Take this same approach when you’re planning your year. What represent the “lunch breaks” or “motel stay-overs” in your annual plan? What are the important stops on your figurative road trip for the year? The Franklin-Covey system of organization and planning refers to these as your “Big Rocks”, and that analogy works for our road trip too; these are the landmarks that help you map your route.
Spend some time early this month deciding on your landmarks for the new year. Then, when the holiday busy-ness winds down, you’ll have an easier time mapping your route for 2014.