Things almost never turn out the way we plan.
I remember this single-panel cartoon I read many years ago. Two men on a sidewalk are carrying briefcases. One of them says to the other, “Here’s an idea. Let’s buy a grocery store tabloid and bury it in the park with a copy of our 5-year plan. Then we’ll come back in 5 years and dig them both up and see which one is funnier.”
I don’t have “goals” and I don’t have “plans”; because I don’t want to live with the pressure, guilt, and bondage those words seem to always bring with them.
Plans are based on assumptions that wiggle away like greased piglets when you try to hang onto them.
Detailed plans are the wishful thinking of a scientific mind.
Instead of goals, I have objectives.
Goals have deadlines, objectives do not.
When we began building the Wizard Academy campus 16 years ago, I thought it would take us about 5 years. Right now we’re hoping we can be finished in the next 12 to 18 months. Okay, so it took 3 and 1/2 times as long as I thought it would, but that’s fine because we didn’t have a “goal” and we didn’t have a “plan.” We had an objective that we pursued in accordance with a guiding principle: Never borrow money.
For sixteen years people have asked me about the timeline and the budget for building our campus and they always seem confused by my answer, “It will take as long as it takes and it will cost what it costs.”
We built when we had money. We quit building when we did not. The final outcome was never in question. The only variable was how long it would take.
Here’s another guiding principle: “When something really matters, don’t worry about how long it will take. The time will pass anyway.”
My more disciplined friends tell me that putting timelines on their goals puts a healthy pressure on them to perform. These same friends also complain about the debilitating stress they face every day.
Do you have plans that aren’t proceeding as planned? Are your goals wiggling away from you like a greased piglet? Consider the advice of Arianna Huffington, “Just change the channel. You are in control of the clicker.”
When I was 20, a wealthy man gave me this advice: “Plan your work, and work your plan.”
A couple of years later policemen led him away from his home with his hands cuffed behind his back. I doubt that being arrested for financial crimes was part of his plan.
Today I offer you this advice: Choose what you hope to change and make a tiny bit of progress toward it every day. When you commit to a daily action – not an outcome – you will find that passion and hope and serendipity will soon come knocking at your door. You’ll find yourself in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing, in the right way. Not because you had a detailed plan, but because you made a commitment and you followed it up with daily action.
By the way, changing the balance in your bank account isn’t an objective, it’s merely the consequence of daily actions. So make your commitment to something bigger than that. And remember the words of Wes Jackson, “If your life’s work can be accomplished in your lifetime, you’re not thinking big enough.”
Roy H. Williams