The Principles of Good Planning (Boot Camp for Creators & Dreamers 13.2)

Doris Day discusses The Man Who Knew Too Much with director Alfred Hitchcock: “Yes, Hitch, it’s a great plan. But couldn’t I just sing my song for two hours.”

Actress and singer Doris Day belted out the lyrics to a catchy tune called “Que Sera, Sera” in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1956 thriller The Man Who Knew Too Much. The song picked up an Oscar the following year and soon became Day’s signature tune. A decade later the song served as the opening theme to the long-running television comedy, The Doris Day Show.

The lyrics contained the following sentiment: “When I was just a little girl; I asked my mother, what will I be? Will I be pretty, will I be rich? Here’s what she said to me. ‘Que Sera, Sera, Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see — Que Sera, Sera.'”

True enough. We’re not fortune tellers. On the other hand, we can take an active role shaping our destinies. In fact, we creators and dreamers can’t afford to wake up each morning with the laid-back (and lazy) attitude of “Whatever will be, will be” — not if we hope to accomplish anything worthwhile in life. If we’re going to realize our goals and dreams we can’t sit around waiting to see what’s going to happen. We need to make things happen, and to do this we need a plan (an agenda, a course of action, a God-given strategy).

As previously discussed, having a plan helps us to manage our most valuable resource, time. It helps us to keep our priorities straight, while working, playing, and living more efficiently and, hence, more wisely. Let’s move on to the principles of good planning.

Formulating a plan consists of several elements:

  • Learn to prioritize your responsibilities, activities, and goals. As we stated in “Take Aim,” the chief priority of all followers of Christ should be to give God first place in their lives, and to keep Him there. Godly plans always include the Creator of the Universe, as well as provisions to do His will. How does accomplishing “God’s will” help us to achieve our dreams? “He will give them to you if you give Him first place in your life and live as He wants you to.” (Matthew 6:33 TLB) Sounds like a plan!
  • Our plans should never exclude people. After all, we can’t do God’s will if we don’t leave room in our plans for “interruptions”; because God loves people and He expects us to love them, too — and to be kind, considerate, and caring. In other words, God expects us to adjust our schedules, and even lay aside our plans temporarily, in order to interact with our neighbors and coworkers, build relationships, and meet pressing needs.
  • Use the tools of planning. Keeping lists is vital. If don’t write it down, chances are you won’t remember it. And if you don’t remember it, then you’ll definitely fail to do it. “It” can refer to anything from a shopping list
    to a work agenda. Write IT down, on your “Things To Do” list, in a journal, on a calendar, or in one of those clever little notebooks sold at office supply stores —  called Daily PLANNERS!
  • Keep a schedule; albeit a flexible one. Schedules promote order and efficiency. And setting self-imposed deadlines serves several purposes. Having a deadline motivates us to buckle down and get to work. Self-imposed goals and deadlines also help us to push ourselves, to accomplish more each day than we might otherwise. And meeting one or more of these deadlines helps us to measure our progress — not to mention the sense of accomplishment we’ll get, each time we’re able to check off an item on our To Do lists.
  • Make a commitment to accomplish something worthwhile — each and everyday. (It’s okay to take a day off, however. We all need time for rest, recreation, and relationships.) Even something as simple as organizing your desk or creative space, listening to a motivational message, or learning something new in your area of interest, will help keep you on track to realizing your dreams.
  • Map out each day. This allows us to organize our activities. Yes, this pointer is yet another way of admonishing people to keep a schedule, but it’s important to apply the practice day by day. So each morning, after we spend some quiet time with the Lord, we should make notes of things we need or want to accomplish. We can also compose this list the night before. Once we have our daily To Do list, we should prioritize our goals and responsibilities, and make every effort to complete at least the top two or three items.
  • Plan some Dream-Time. Since most of us creators and dreamers have
    regular “day” jobs, we must discipline ourselves to carve out specific times when we plan to work on our goals, dreams, and creative projects. Whether that designated time is before or after work, during a long bus or train commute, at lunchtime or during a break, dream-time must be planned.

We can’t afford to wait until we go on an extended vacation, or retire, or win the sweepstakes and can quit our jobs. We have to be ready to accomplish something, no matter how small, whenever we have the opportunity — or we may end up doing nothing at all. Truth is, there will never be enough time for our dreams. We usually have to make time — and be ready to make the most of that time, whenever and wherever it arises. This takes planning and discipline. 

And even if you are retired, or you have the privilege of working at home, you’ll still need to schedule WHEN you’re going to pursue your goals. Later never comes. Business ventures don’t materialize from thin air and novels don’t write themselves. So, plan your dream-time.

  • Make the tough choices. All this brings us to another cold hard fact of the creative life: Due to a time crunch, many of us may need to devote a good portion of our weekends and vacations — or any occasion when we have a block of uninterrupted time — to fulfilling our dreams. After all, we’ll never reach our goals sitting in a La-Z-Boy in front of the TV. But choosing to invest part of our weekends (and any spare time we chance upon) pursuing our goals, will also take planning.
  • Ask the Lord for wisdom. Each day you can join other dreamers and creators who pray for guidance: “[Lord,] teach us to keep account of our days so we may develop inner wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12 ISV) And remember, you can accomplish great things even if you don’t have huge blocks of free time. Thirty minutes here or there, each day, each week, each month, ultimately adds up to an impressive investment over the years. Castles and cathedrals are constructed one stone at a time. Books are written one chapter at a time, and chapters a few paragraphs at a time. Again, plan to do at least a little each day.

Little steps carefully planned each day can take you far along the path to success. The important thing is to have a plan. And while you’re making plans, keep in mind that God has a plan for your life: “‘…I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) Cooperate with His plan and He’ll help you with yours!

“Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run….” (Proverbs 21:5 MSG)

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