As much as I want to rail against being labelled a “planner,” I can’t help myself. I’m a man with a plan. I like planning things: it reduces stress in my life, especially when things go differently than expected. And when things do go differently – as is bound to happen from time to time – I have the original plan in my head to understand what the impacts are and what needs to be done to still achieve the desired outcome. I find good planning makes things much more enjoyable because I worry less about the “what-ifs;” it frames the options that are available to respond to the unexpected. Moreover, having a plan frees up my mental energy and allows me to focus on other things.
I will, however, take the time here to acknowledge that there is a thing as too much planning. There is a Japanese proverb that reads, “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” Over-analysis, intense scrutiny, and countless “what-if” scenarios will paralyze a person’s ability to move forward – I’ve seen it happen first hand on projects I’ve worked on and even in my day-to-day personal life. You can put together the best plan in the world but opportunity will pass you by because your focus was on the plan instead of the goal. So, as with most things in life, it’s about finding the balance.
On that point, I don’t need a detailed plan for everything in my life; I can go with the flow, take things as they come, and be “spontaneous” (though that’s not a word many people would use to describe me). My soon-to-be wife jokingly said to me that if she and I were the same in how we approached planning “we’d never have any fun and just sit around and plan the shit out of things.” I find this incredibly funny because it contains enough truth to be plausible and is preposterous at the same time. What can I say? I like a good plan.