Sunday, January 3, 2010

The power of planning

I've been working my way through a book called "Underground", a look into some of the history of hacking focusing mainly on a group from Australia in the early 90's. (the book is available free at Project Gutenberg ) It amazes me reading the book what these various folks were able to accomplish in those days before Google, blogs, automated hacking tools, or even internet access as we know it now. The reason I bring this up is because as the end of the book approaches, I realized what all the hackers had in common with their accomplishments. Passion. Desire. Not just random, "gee, I'd like to do something big someday" desire that so many of us carry around, myself included, but focused, defined passion with set goals to be reached. W. Clement Stone and Napoleon Hill called it definitiveness of purpose. Steven Covey breaks it into two effective habits, beginning with the end in mind and putting first things first. The old adage goes "If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there." Jesus asked His listeners in Luke "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?" (Lk 14:28 NIV) People, again myself included, have the bad habit of thinking in generalities. If I get a good job, if I finish school, get another degree, if I sit down and write, things will be better. That's not how we are successful though. Success comes through setting solid goals, making the plans to reach those goals, following through with the plans, and keeping track of the plan to make sure it will get us to our goal.

Each step is required for the process to be successful. Setting the goals puts our destination on the map. If your goal is a certain income level, putting the number down in black and white helps solidify that goal. If that goal is a certain object, again, putting it down in black and white (or color picture) solidifies the goal. Once the destination is decided, the path to reach it can be chosen. Income is the easiest one to look at here. Compare what you are currently making with what you want to make. Is it possible to bring in the desired income with your present job, or will you need to look at switching jobs? Is a second job or stream of income needed? Measurements and quantification is required, otherwise your goals are nebulous and impossible to reach. The next step is to work the plan. What good is a road map if you never look at it? How do you know how far away from you destination you are if you aren't checking your progress on the map? Road blocks and detours are a guarantee, and sometimes halfway through the trip, it may be necessary to reassess the destination. But those obstacles are easier to deal with as part of a path, as is that occasional change of course.

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