Planning. A word that fills some with excitement and some with dread.
Back in my post To Plan or Not to Plan, I talked about my Myers Briggs Type and that the J preference likes making lists and planning. It’s a 0-30 scale, and I pegged out at a 28.
I like to plan.
As is the norm, with maturity, I have come down from that 28 high and now sit at a moderate 16. I still like planning, but I don’t get overly stressed if I don’t have a complete plan. I can now live with a partial plan!
But when I’m stressed, I always go back to planning to calm myself down.
That’s my planning style.
In the book, Becoming a Resonant Leader, the authors found that people approach the future in different ways. There’s goal-oriented, direction-oriented, and action-oriented.
Some people set specific objectives and work toward them in a structured and linear fashion. This approach is used by roughly half of people.
Goal-oriented planners tend to focus on very specific goals and outcomes, which are not always tied to the pursuit of a dream or fulfilling a mission.
Sometimes this makes them good at achieving things, but not particularly satisfied by them and therefore they move to seek the next short-term objective.
Goal setting is the most traditional form of planning, is diligently taught in schools and supported by performance management systems in business.
Other people know the general path they wish to pursue, but they stop short of getting too specific. They have an intense sense of purpose and mission and a willingness to be flexible regarding specific goals.
Direction-oriented planners see the big picture. They are highly attuned to their environment and are good at spotting opportunities. Then they leverage those in pursuit of their dreams or vision. They adapt easily to changes in the environment, but stay true to an overarching set of principles, values, or their vision.
Meanwhile, a surprising number of people really do not think too much about the distant future. Totaling about one-third of the population, these action-oriented planners live largely in the moment, forgoing deep thoughts about the future and long-term planning.
Some of these people approach planning as an extension of a series of tasks or activities, not worrying or thinking about where these steps will lead.
They choose each action according to the logic of the moment and base the next decision on outcomes or recent past actions.
Still others forgo thinking about the future in any form and live in an existential present. They seem to be focused on who they are rather than who they might become or what they might do.
Clearly, one size does not fit all when it comes to planning.
In her book Work Simply, Carson Tate takes it further with four different productivity styles: planner, prioritizer, arranger, and visualizer.
Since planning is an integral part of productivity, her book gives you countless methods on how to use your preferred style to become a better planner, as well as a more productive person. I highly recommend this book for the sheer number of practical tips tailored to the different styles that it offers.
Planning is important, no matter what your style is. Learn your style and work with it, instead of against it.
I promise it will help you day-to-day and in the long-term as well.
Leaving you with this from the lighter side: “I wasn’t planning to lead! I was standing in the back and then everyone turned around.” Avery Hebert