Plans Are One Thing...

By Ron Rosenberg

Speedometer - Reaching Your Goal

There’s an old business adage that the best way to be successful in accomplishing your goals is to “plan your work and work your plan.”

In other words, map out your long-term goals, translate them into specific “bite-sized” pieces, prioritize them, allocate time to address each one, and then execute – it’s just like pushing the “That Was Easy” button on the Staples commercials.

In theory, that sounds like a great plan. In fact, it’s what I try to do on a daily basis. I say “try” because with rare exceptions, my day never unfolds the way I plan. Despite my best efforts to eliminate distractions, manage my activities, and block off time for specific tasks, like I’m doing right now in writing this article, things always seem to pop up that get in the way.

It can be something as innocuous as having to reschedule a call, or something more significant like a flight cancellation that will seriously impede my ability to be somewhere for a live program the day before as I normally do.

Usually, these problems can be resolved, and the only fallout, if you can call it that, is the impact they have on your schedule for the day and the stress and frustration that they bring.

Sometimes they can cause a more serious disruption in your day, or even in your life. But these shouldn’t always be viewed as “bad” things.

Read Any Good Books Lately?

One of my favorite authors is Tom Robbins. He’s relatively unknown to the “general public” except possibly as the author of Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, which was made into a movie in 1993.

Tom Robbins has a unique writing style and a somewhat bizarre view of life and the universe. His characters are eclectic, the interwoven plots are a little strange, and the writing can be alternately disturbing and brilliant.

But reading one of his books is an adventure. Scattered throughout the text, appearing when you least expect it, are what amount to striking and insightful philosophical commentaries - the kind that makes you sit up, take notice, and say, “Hmmm...”

What is Success?

One such passage relevant to our conversation here appears in the book I just mentioned, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, published back in 1976. The main character, Sissy Hankshaw, was going to do something in town. “Those were her plans,” the text reads, and then continues:

“But plans are one thing and fate another. When they coincide, success results. Yet success mustn't be considered the absolute. It is questionable, for that matter, whether success is an adequate response to life. Success can eliminate as many options as failure.”

The first time I read this, while in college, it kind of jolted my entire outlook on life. What this meant, if he was right, is that we can learn as much from our failures as from our successes. That an unforeseen obstacle dropped right in our path can force us onto another path we might not have even considered.

Some of you may know what I’m talking about from events in your own past. Some of you may be experiencing a similar situation right now. If you’ve somehow managed to dodge this bullet, don’t worry, you’ll definitely have the opportunity to come face to face with this phenomenon at some point in your life, and it will almost certainly happen when you least expect it and when it’s seriously inconvenient.

Applying This Idea in Your Life...

This same principle is essential to your marketing – whether you’re promoting your company or association to the “outside world,” your group or department to the larger organization, or even yourself to your boss or a hiring manager.

You can plan everything down to the last detail, anticipate possible issues, and even create multiple contingency plans to address them.

But when things don’t go as planned, you have to take it in stride, be flexible and adaptive in your response, and most of all, be alert to other directions you may become aware of that you hadn’t noticed before.

This will help keep you sharp, make your organization successful, and help you develop even better ideas and strategies in the future.

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