As an avid hiker, I never leave the house without a map of where I am going, a compass, and cellphone. I usually know exactly what trail I will be on and approximately where the nearest road is. I am not saying that this planning is bad. This post is about planning that tends to take up our lives, planning that happens late at night, when we are bored in class or at work, and for me usually in a coffee shop. Planning can be extremely useful and necessary. Just as in the case above, when things go wrong on the trail I use the things I planned with to get me out of the sticky situation.
The planning I am talking about is the planning that never gets to the action step. There is four essential steps to successfully plan. These are the essential steps to planning anything in life, whether a trip somewhere, a plan after college, or simply dinner plans. First, Have a Big Idea. Second, Research. Third, Write it Down. The fourth and final step is Do it. Many of us are amazing planners. Except for the fact, that we forget the fourth step. So here is a quick guide to become the best planner and doer.
HAVE A BIG IDEA
This is my favorite step. It is the one step where your inner child, explorer, dreamer, and heart gets to work the best. This is just like a pure brainstorming session. No negatives, no impossibilities, no no's. Only things that are BIG. Start brainstorming. Mark nothing of the list. Start writing them down. Whether is a spontaneous trip to Canada or a medical missions trip to Haiti, a career as a National Geographic photographer or Marketer for Fight the New Drug, or even a trip to the new coffee shop in town. Have the idea. There is no wrongs. Write them down.
The Millennials are some of the best researchers. We have some of the best tools in the world at our finger tips. The research step doesn't have to be long and drawn out. It can be as easy as Google mapping the directions to Niagara Falls or the new coffee shop. It can be as in depth as finding the website and exploring every line of text. Whatever you find in your research is what can make your big idea possible.
Sometimes as you research you might find that an impossibility comes up. It might be that your bank account doesn't have enough funds or that to get to your destination you need a helicopter. Who knows but there will be roadblocks. During your research you either need to find a way around them or write them down for future planning.
WRITE IT DOWN
I have journal full of big ideas, research, and hundreds of details. I never know if I will complete everything in there. Personally I hope I never finish all my big ideas, because if I do that is going to be a sad day of no more dreaming. In my journal it is split into 3 parts, the first part is the BIG IDEAS section. It is full of dreams, places, and journeys I might do one day. This section is my compass, the direction I want to go. The second section is my RESEARCH section. It has a lot of scribbles and looks messy but I need it to work out every roadblock to my Big Ideas section. The last section looks very neat and has the research and finalized details of the Big Ideas. It is my map, where I want to go with the trail marked. I suggest you start a journal or journals of your plans and ideas. Write them all down so that way one day you can complete them.
Sadly, we are too damn good at the first three steps of planning. We often forget to do this fourth and final step. But without the doing part of planning, all our journals are is a bunch of scribbles. I used to get really discouraged when older generations would say that the Millennials would never do anything worthwhile or even get off our phones to do something meaningful to society. As I look around at my fellow Millennials, I realize this is often the step we forget. We already have a vision of the world we want to raise the next generation in. We can see it. We even have ways to accomplish it. Yet, we have yet to take the first step in the direction of our Big Ideas.
In order to be the best planners, we have to close our journals, pack them in our backpacks, and walk out the door. So quit planning and do it. Find something in your big ideas section and do it. Even if it is that new coffee shop or microbrewery, find adventures in exploring your local town. Don't let your map have dark areas or your planning journal gather dust. Get off your phone and go do it.