What Are You Doing to Create Your Future?
I always enjoy reading the INSIDERS columns by Rod Osthus. His straightforward, no-nonsense approach offers great insights. And while I’ve never met him, I suspect he and I share a similar belief in the importance of planning in order to achieve success. I was struck by the profound simplicity of this statement from his most recent column: “Thinking about the future, with no plan for the present, creates a lot of fear.”
As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, I am involved with a leadership development program in my community, and I facilitate a lesson that focuses on the role and importance of planning. When it comes to planning, there are those personality types who plan everything to the nth degree and those who never plan for anything, but the majority of people fall somewhere in between.
As I’ve grown older and “wiser,” I’ve come to accept that it is important to look toward the future, plan for what you want that future to look like, and – most importantly – to make course corrections along the way. Years ago, I read a book (the title and main subject of which I can no longer recall) that made a profoundly simple statement, which reshaped the way I look at the future.
Paraphrasing, it said the future isn’t a place we are going; it is a place we are creating. This infers that the future isn’t some predestined place to which we are unwittingly being drawn. To the contrary, the plans we make and the actions we take shape that future and our place in it.
This is why planning and the aforementioned course corrections are so important. When we plan, we essentially are planning in a vacuum. We take facts that we have available and predictions for things we don’t know, and we process this information through our internal filters. Then we make a plan. This can be as simple as planning a vacation or as complex as developing a business plan. Either way, the process isn’t significantly different.
Unfortunately, while we plan in a vacuum, we don’t execute the plan in a vacuum. Things happen. Roads are closed. Regulations are implemented. Markets change. Whatever the variable, the environment in which we operate doesn’t remain constant from the planning stage through the execution stage. This is why we have to monitor the execution of the plan and be willing to adapt to changing conditions.
It’s also what keeps life interesting and helps us to grow.