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On Planning and Doing

Some time I decided to make a five-year plan for myself because I heard some people on some TV show talk about how they have five-year plans. But first I needed to know what exactly a five-year plan was, and so, of course, I went to YouTube and asked it to show me videos of what five-years plans are and how to make a five-year plan for myself.

Here are some hands making a plan.

One of the first videos I clicked on began its explanation with a phrase along the lines of:


“Those that make plans take action.”


And right then I felt a strange twist in my gut, because from a lifetime of experience I know that that is not necessarily true. I know this because I have made so many –



plans, and have taken comparatively so few actions.


Those who make plans make plans. And those who take action take action.


Plans and actions are not the same thing.

Here is a person checking the plan, looking slightly concerned about something.

There are a lot of people who make plans and then take action, often based on the plans that they made. But there are just as many people to take no action after their plans are made, and there are many others to who take no thought beforehand of whatever action they’re about to take.


With so much making and taking, we might find ourselves in danger of faking and breaking.


I remember when Pinterest first became a thing and I spent hours on it gathering ideas for fun dates to go on and delicious meals and treats to cook and what my future house would look like and what kind of clothes I wanted wear. And if my goal was to just gather ideas, then that goal was achieved several times each day. But if my goal was to actually do something with all of that, then I failed miserably.


The thing about plans is that they can be remarkable asset in building the kind of life or person you want to have or become. The second habit of highly effective people to is to “begin with the end in mind,” meaning to have a clear view of what your end product will be. In essence, it’s to create your thing mentally or spiritually or conceptually before you make physically or temporally or in actuality.


But like so many things whose purpose is to lead to the next thing, we human beings have a tendency to stall and stay put, but all under the illusion that you’re actually doing something.


I always get confused when people congratulate others on their wants or on their goals or on their dreams, like it’s some great accomplishment to say “I want to go to Juilliard,” or “I plan on being a millionaire by the time I’m 25.”


Plans are good and useful, but they don’t change the world. Only actions do that.


So be careful how much time you take when plan for things. Be careful to eventually stop planning and start doing.


Be careful to encourage actions instead of praising plans, to applaud accomplishments instead dreams, even if the accomplishment was nothing more than a good effort.


Many plans have worthy and honorable intentions, and should be acknowledged as having such. But remember that the plan is not the thing, and it is the thing that should be bolstered and lauded.


Never forget what paves the path to Hell.

One day I want to dramatically swipe everything off of a table, lay out a map or blueprint or something, and announce, "Alright! Here's the the plan!"

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