“Plan Your Work & Work Your Plan”: Great Life Skill or Waste of Time?

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November 14, 2013 by Rick Brammer

"Plan Your Work & Work your Plan": Great Life Skill or Waste of Time

 

We’ve all heard this saying, right?  The origins of the saying are unknown but it has certainly been used by many.  Both Vince Lombardi and Margaret Thatcher had been known to utilize it. Victor Hugo, author of both Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame had a similar quote,“He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the most busy life.  But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign.”

The phrase has been documented as being used in church sermons dating back to the 1880s and there is a bible verse that touches on the topic; Proverbs 21:5 New Living Translation, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.”

Michigan State University has created a document for those that have or are in the process of obtaining their PhD.  What’s the Title? Yep you guessed it, “Plan Your Work & Work Your Plan, Essential Career Competencies for PhDs.”

I entered the phrase in a search engine and found the variety of ways in which it was utilized to be pretty amazing; the Lombardi and Hugo quotes are there, but how about the PTA, PGA, life coaches, physical fitness, financial planning, career advice, running a business, and leadership.  One blog posting referred to the phrase as an “irrefutable law of success.”

Sounds like a life skill we could all use, yet many of us don’t. In fact, there has been much said and written about the death of the business plan.  As I read through many of the articles against a plan, I am struck by one thing.  The majority of the articles against business plans are referring to start-ups.  I read and or skimmed around 30 articles as I was researching this topic and I did not find one article that said an established business would not benefit from a plan.

I have had the opportunity during my career to work for several Fortune 100 companies as well as startups and small businesses.  My experience with “Plan your work & work your plan” has ranged from planning to paralysis to we don’t need no stinking plan

Fortunately, there have been plenty of times when the common sense middle ground ruled the day.  During the times when all we seemed to do was research and plan it was the result of a lack of leadership—the inability to make a decision or take that next step.  Interestingly, when I have encountered the we don’t need a plan approach leadership—actually the lack thereof— was also the culprit.

 Let’s face it, even as simple as the phrase “Plan your work and work your plan” is in reality it actually takes some effort to get done.  You’ll hear excuses like, “We can get to market faster without a business plan holding us back” or “We like to be nimble and react to the market” and “We’re too small to need a plan” and a litany of other excuses. But, no matter the justification what I hear is, “I just don’t want to take the time and energy to create a plan.” 

A common misconception is that a business plan has to be a long, flashy, detailed plan.  This is certainly true if you are going to be sharing the plan with someone outside your organization—especially if you are going to use the plan to secure financing.  There are a multitude of resources available including books on how to write a plan, companies that will be glad to do it for you and consultants that will tell you what they think you should do.  But for the majority of us the plan can be stated in simple terms without all the pomp and circumstance.

So whether it is a plan for your business, financial security, physical well-being, or pretty much any other aspect of your life, let’s get planning.

My next blog will discuss some thoughts on what to include in your plan and how to go about writing one.  In the meantime, why not plan out your day for tomorrow and see what happens.  You may be surprised.

Rick Brammer is President and co-owner of United Credit Service, Inc.

Founded in 1950, United Credit Service, Inc. is a full service revenue cycle management and debt collection agency in Wisconsin providing highly effective, customized one on one management and recovery solutions for our business partners. Visit our website at http://www.unitedcreditservice.com or call 877-723-2902

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