"You are today where your thoughts have
brought you; you will be tomorrow
where your thoughts take you."
- James Allen
How to Form a Plan
A complex plan
We all have problems in life we'd like to overcome. Sometimes we can go straight to the solution with little thought beforehand, other times a plan is the better option, especially if the goal is complex and involves many steps. If you set out a plan, then the work of making it happen becomes clear, and even if you don't make the progress you want, you'll at least know how far you've progressed. Whatever happens, you had your own plan and even if it all goes wrong, you'll learn from it for next time.
Write down the problems that you want to solve. Sometimes this is the most difficult step. Is something happening that's wasting your time in life? Are you having trouble in dealing with the opposite sex? Maybe you would just like to do better in something and feel you can form a plan to make it better.
Use brainstorming techniques to write down everything — everything — about your problem. A crucial step, it is important to never self-censor here. You can always cut things later. Right now it is important to get everything down. One thing will lead to another, things you have not thought of will appear, and you will start to form an idea of the steps it will take to realize your goal and solve your problem. You may even come over the solution while brainstorming. There are many different kinds of brainstorming techniques, some are here:
Determine what's different about your current situation from where you want to be. In other words, start thinking about your goals and how you want to achieve them. Your goals will be the solutions to your problem your plan will achieve.
Write down your goals for each part of the task. Under goals, write what you need to do to accomplish that goal.
Put the goals you need to do into groups or 'chunks', and put those in the proper order.
Set a time limit for your plan by choosing a realistic date for when you want to achieve a given goal. Make sure to think about how 'big' your goal is, and the amount of change that will have to happen.
Write your plan on one sheet of paper, or print it out that way. Include a time scale on the paper to show when each chunk of work should happen, and when you want to check progress you've made.
Print or write smaller parts of a larger plan.
Congratulate yourself on your plans and be excited about your goals. Visualize how your life will be different once you have accomplished goals.
As you complete a goal, check it off your plan so you can see your progress.
Set aside time to do it. Forget your usual activities including Internet, Television, eating and conversation for a while and take time out to solve your problem.
Remember that planning is just the work that turns chaos into error- don't expect that just because you created a plan that it's going to work perfectly without further effort. The plan is just the starting point.
Think about your plan at a different time over a period of three days. If it seems stupid at any point during those three days, then change it.
There's a weird sort of magic that happens when you write up your plan on the computer or on paper. It may feel silly or unnecessary, but try it. For more complicated plans it's pretty much the only way to go unless you enjoy making lots of adjustments as you go.
When adding to the detail of your plan, try to guess out what could go wrong and develop contingency plans.
For organizing your thoughts, try the freeware program Freemind. Known as a 'mind-map' program, it is flexible, easy to use, and most importantly, useful. A link to the main website (true to it's GNU, free-use roots, the main website is a wiki) is included below.
Warnings: Don't get bogged down in details during the brainstorming stage.