Planning Ahead

Crazy driver

I took this picture on the way to a meeting the other day. As you can see, the lady driving the car has her little dog right up front with her in the driver’s seat.

Because we were driving (and I know how some of our local drivers are – think New York cabbies!), I couldn’t help but think of some of the things that could go wrong:

  • A car suddenly brakes in front of her.
  • A child runs out in front of the car.
  • She’s rear-ended by the driver behind.
  • The dog sees another dog and starts going wild.

All of these scenarios – and probably a few more – would all lead to the same result, and it wouldn’t be pretty for either the driver or her dog.

Because she didn’t plan ahead.

She didn’t take into consideration what might happen, so she let everything go to fate. Fair enough – but sometimes we need to make sure that planning ahead is core to all we do. Some of this could include:

Planning Ahead For Your Business

We like to think we’ll know what to do when our business hits a rough patch. But do we? Do we know to have X amount set aside to pay the bills, employees, contractors and ourselves? Do we make our business and/or marketing plans flexible enough to be able to change on the fly? Do we plan for trends in the marketplace and how we’ll overcome them? Do we plan ahead on changes in the administration of our countries and different mindsets to our current business approaches?

Planning Ahead In Your Job

There used to be a time when you had a job for life. No more. Now, you’e lucky you’re at the same place for more than a couple of years. So how are you planning ahead for that? Are you taking a night school course to expand your skills for a new career? Are you keeping on top of industry news about your employer or their industry? Are you planning ahead in case your employer goes bust tomorrow? Are you planning how to use the contacts you’re making when/if push comes to shove?

Planning Ahead On Your Blog

If you blog, you may or may not have a blogging schedule. Myself, I pretty much write when an idea comes to me and I’ll write almost there and then – I don’t have any drafts. But what if I fell ill, and my blog was dead for a month or more? Are you planning on having a back-up plan for you falling ill? Or vacations? Or if your server goes down, or your host goes out of business?

Planning Ahead In Your Life

Okay, this is probably the hardest to plan ahead for, since life is pretty good at throwing us curve balls. But there are still ways we can plan ahead, either for us or for those around us. For instance, have you planned how much extra you can put to the mortgage to make your home your own faster? Or how you’ll cope if your partner falls seriously ill, and you have children? Who can you reach out to? Or how about the discussion that’ll arise if your son or daughter comes home one day and says their views on a topic you’re passionate about have changed and they’re in direct – and possibly harmful – conflict with you?

Your Turn

These are just some of the ways we can all plan ahead, whether in our personal or professional lives, or somewhere in-between. There are many more – the main point is that they’re all related. What happens at work affects your home life, and very often vice versa.

Planning ahead might not stop certain events from happening; but it sure as hell can prepare you better. After all, you never know when you’re going to get hit by a flying dog…

How about you? Are you planning ahead, and if not, should you be, at least just a little?

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  1. says

    Hey Danny,
    I’m TRYING! Recently I gathered all the important info and showed the kids where it was in case something happened to both of their parents at the same time. We’ve reviewed and changed our life insurance. we’ve got that plan to have a rock solid retirement plan πŸ˜‰

    For my blog I do much better (note to self: expand on this into other areas of life!) I have about 13 posts written ahead, which gets me 6-7 weeks into the future. I try to add two a week to the file. I can’t write under pressure, or don’t like to. I don’t know how you do a post with NO DRAFT – Kudos to you!

    As for the rest, I actually do have plans in my head, and on paper everywhere. My life isn’t organized as Life, for instance, but it’s getting there! :-)

    • says

      Hey there Lori,

      Hmm, I may have to ask for some trade secrets on getting kids motivated in years to come. πŸ˜‰

      Trust me, sometimes I wish I did have drafts ready to go – it’d make life much easier! But yeah, I’ve just found that approach suits me, at least for now.

      That’s always open to change, mind you… πŸ˜‰

  2. says

    Yes, I agree, very well said. That’s true think about the consequences if you did not plan ahead. That’s why in every games you play, there’s a plan on what you should do and what are the things you need to do. Plan it very well, you will found a happiness if you do it very well.

  3. says

    I enjoy helping business grow and often give clients and prospects ideas on how they can do that. But the difference between giving blind advice because (in theory) it seems sound and understanding what they will or can actually do can often be a wide chasm. We know we ‘should’ use the treadmill, getting off our butts and using it is that thing they refer to as ‘the work’.

    As a business owner, I seem to be able to give advice but suffer from the complex of the cobbler so I have recognized that and are working toward planing ahead more. Not over planning, or planing without action, actually planning what I can and will do.

    And anyone who runs their own business, that is so much easier said (typed) than done.

    I saw a 12yr old on a rider mower this weekend. The mower clearly outweighed the kid and my suspicion is that his parent(s) didn’t plan ahead.

    • says

      You know, it’s a conundrum, mate (and looks like both you and Erica have the same thoughts today). We do great for our clients – marketing, plans, scheduling, etc – but often lose track of what that means for us.

      Hey ho… πŸ˜‰

  4. says

    I have a love/hate relationship with planning. More hate, less love. It seems like every time I plan something, the plan falls through or something changes. Planning is really guessing, and leads to expectations that may leave you feeling disappointed.

    Of course that being said, I completely understand the necessity for a worst-case scenario plan of action so you’re not caught off guard.

    • says

      I think that’s the main thing, Eugene. I hear you on the “falls to crap” angle, but at least if we plan with that in mind, it gives us a better chance of getting through that. :)

  5. says

    Great post for me today, especially since I was looking at the the weeks, months, and next quarter objectives and sorting out where to begin. I believe fully in having a fully planned schedule. It is just not in me to wonder what I am going to do today. When that does happen I realize I am overworking myself and then that needs its own set of plans. Thanks for the reminders Danny to not leave our business to chance but to be professional and proactive.

    • says

      Hey there mate,

      I think that’s a key point – if we do have a plan, we can always see the quiet points, and base our decisions on how to fill them from what we need to accomplish.

      Cheers, sir!

  6. says

    Heehe :) I saw that picture and immediately tensed up. Thanks for giving me road rage while I’m not even in my car, Danny!

    As for planning ahead, I’m probably on the end of the spectrum that would be called crazy. I plan meals ahead so that I can plan when/if I need to go grocery shopping. I try to plan my errands ahead so I can hit as many as I can in one fell swoop since gas is so ridiculously expensive. I have plans for my retirement already, assuming the world makes it past October.

    I would say, from my vantage point, that there is such a thing as planning ahead too much. Sometimes you need to take a breather and enjoy the present, so I am trying to work on that :)

    • says

      Haha, let me know when you’re driving, Margie, and I’ll plan a better image… πŸ˜‰

      Would you say you plan more than you need to, or you’re just really covering all bases? Can be a fine line at times. :)

      • says

        I think it depends on the situation and the perspective. People that have to watch me plan would most certainly say I over-plan without hesitation, and in some cases I agree. However, I learned a long time ago that I’m not the type of person who does well flying by the seat of my pants. Things always go wrong. Printers run out of ink. Papers randomly disappear. Computers randomly go haywire.

        Some people can skate through life without those problems, so they refrain from the time-consuming dance of planning. I’m just not one of those lucky people, darn it all! :)

  7. says

    Like Kneale mentions above…I can help businesses and clients plan like crazy, to the nth degree, but when it comes to keeping my own house in order…I’ve fallen down on the job. I’ve been guilty of flying by the seat of my pants and my pants have just recently been jerked! So, plans are being furiously made, once the “Oh Sh#t” moment passed, and a commitment made to maintaining that outlook for a very long time to come!

    I always get mad with those folks driving with animals in their laps – instantly recognized that pic!

    • says

      Ouch – hope the “Oh Sh#t!” moment wasn’t a major one (nice imagery, there, thanks miss!!) πŸ˜‰

      As I mentioned to Kneale, it’s funny how we can do all the things right for our clients, yet often leave the basics from our own stuff.

      Definite lessons! πŸ˜‰

  8. says

    I hate seeing a pet on a driver’s lap. Forget the clueless dolt with the license, I’m more concerned for the animal!

    When it comes to planning, I try. I’m trying to build up my little magazine as a hedge for down the road, when the job gets old. Who knows, maybe I’ll get into consulting some day like everyone else.

    In the meantime, I pleased to know my business is based on a simple, elegant premise that will enable me to shift gears on the fly as circumstances change. It all comes down to believing in what you do and genuinely helping others. Let the chips fall…

    • says

      Hey there mate,

      With you completely on the animal vs. human thing. You have a choice to be an idiot; the animal has to follow suit, unfortunately.

      What’s the magazine? Is it an offshoot of the gearhead site, or something different?

      • says

        Right you are, sir. Some people. Hmph!

        The magazine is the gearhead site. I see no reason to pursue print, as printed magazines are mostly ads these days, anyway. Eventually, I’ll actually get gearheads participating in the conversation, and, once that happens, we’re off to the races!

  9. says

    I write a lot about planning.
    Any success should start with a goal, but like you say once you have it, don’t leave it up to faith.

    Make a plan, what do you need to do? In what order? What do you need to learn? How will you learn it? What do you need to buy? How much money do you need? Where is that money going to come from? Who will you be serving? How will you serve them? How can you expand?

    And so on.
    The answer to these questins are the answer to your sales success.

  10. says

    Hi Danny

    Planning – hmm. For me – yes in some areas and no in others that I should be (mostly personal rather than business tends to be forgotten).

    I sometimes think that we mistake “The Plan” with “Planning”. THe Plan being where you want to end up and planning is how you get there. If you just focus on The Plan or the End Game – planning can be a nightmare. The best approach I find is to break it down into really small, achievable chunks and then it simply doesn’t feel that bad :)

    • says

      Oooh, I like that differentiation, Barney, and fully agree, mate – you can’t really have success with one without the other. :)

      Cheers, sir!

  11. says

    My problem seems to be in planning without writing it down and then wondering what I had planned. Because of your post my plan is to write down my plan and then execute that plan.

    Thx Danny

  12. says

    First off, that pictures serves only to enrage me, and I’m in quite the happy-go-lucky mood today. Hailing from Atlanta, I’ve seen my fair share of outrageous drivers from those reading the paper while commuting to mothers scolding the soccer team in the back of the mini-van. Those are examples where poor planningΒ is also putting others at risk. But I digress, back to the idea of planning.

    One of my favorite quotes is “The will to succeed means nothing without the will to prepare.” I may have butchered the exact phrasing, but the meaning surely shows through. I’ve been called a neurotic planner in the past, and I’m working diligently to allow for more spontaneity in my life — and I’m quite enjoying it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t continue to plan and prepare; I simply choose to plan for whimsical decisions every once in a while.

    • says

      Great phrase, Jamey, and so true. Reminds me of the short “Fail to plan, plan to fail” mantra. Sure, we can over-plan at times. Better that than not at all, no?

      And stupid drivers get my goat every time.

  13. says

    I must not be planning ahead, as this post made me feel very uncomfortable! Bother! The good news is, my dog is a black lab and it would be impossible for me to drive with her in my lap.

  14. says

    I definitely consider myself a planner, but I try not to focus so much on the future that it causes anxiety in the present. I’m also a pretty fast thinker when circumstances change and I’m confident in my decisions. Alas, even if you plan ahead for something like a job loss by bolstering savings and whatnot, the actual loss can be unexpectedly crippling emotionally. It’s impossible to plan for that.

    PS – My small dog rides in the car every day, snapped into his own special seat. No need to worry about me if you’re on the streets of San Diego!

    • says

      Hey there Marianne,

      That’s a good point about feeling the need to plan too much and how it can affect your present state. Note to self – listen to Marianne. :)

  15. says

    When it comes to blogging I never plan ahead- I just write. I prefer it that way because it feels much more authentic.

    Planning for life like you said is very tough, it is hard to see more than a short ways into the future.

    But in business, well if you are not planning you are asking for serious trouble.

    • says

      I write pretty much the same way, Jack – I think it’s because it feels more instant, as opposed to having it a week in advance?

      Though I can understand (and sometimes get jealous of) people who have a blogging schedule – I know I could have used one a few times in the past.

      Hey ho. :)

  16. says


    The way I read your post was more about contingency planning than daily or goal planning. More about “what if”. The lady in the car obviously wasn’t thinking about what might go wrong; she just assumed nothing would. I think you can look here in America particularly at the events of 2008 and see a lot of failing to plan for “what if.” Many people failed to ask what if house prices go down, what if credit dries up, etc. Really, it’s about having a plan if your primary plan falls apart.

    And hey, wasn’t it your countryman who laid it out years ago? “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry…” :)

    • says

      Haha, are you blaming us Scots for the world’s woes??? :)

      Agree completely, mate – it’s crucial to have some form of fall-back plan (or, at the least, a buffer of either finances or actions) to keep you going when things go wrong.

      It’s not that people fail; it’s that they fail to get back up. Here’s to more getting back up. :)

  17. says

    I also detest when people let their dog hang halfway out the window, even on the highway. If they were to stop the car suddenly, the dog would go flying out. And the dog doesn’t know any better, but they’re the ones more likely to get hurt.

    As far as planning goes, I’m a list maker. This goes for both short and long term to-do, budget, goal lists etc. Whether or not this is true or not, I feel as though I would get nothing done if I don’t write it down first.

    • says

      That’s the thing, Renee, it’s always the innocent animals that get hurt.

      Lists are great. When you can read a list and see what you’ve ticked off so far, you know what still needs to be done (or you can add some more).

      Here’s to lists! :)

  18. says

    Hey Danny!

    You simply have to know where you’re going in life, or at least have a vision you’re pursuing or you’ll go nowhere fast.

    This is where plan comes into play.

    I have found the most important thing to understand in regard to your plan is you must be willing to make adjustments along the way.

    Where you ultimately desire to end up won’t change much — however your plan on how you’re actually going to get there does, and without your permission or input.

    And if you’re not prepared it, it’s like getting hit by a flying dog!!!

      • says

        Hi Guys,
        I’m joining your conversation !
        First Danny, I really like the comparison you’re making between our living situations and professional processes.
        A few weeks ago, my car has been damaged by another one.
        Fortunately I’m safe and my car has been repaired.
        The thing is sometimes we cannot plan as we want to, but as Mark beautifully said it we can make some ajustements.
        But I’ll just underline that it all depends on us. Nothing more.
        Thank you for this great post Danny as always, inspiring and motivating.

  19. says

    Hi, Danny.

    I always have my handy-dandy notebook with me, so I always have somewhere to write down my plans, my thoughts, my poems and blog topics. With this notebook, I am able to keep track of the stuff that I need to do on what date. Although I am also using Evernote (courtesy of Brankica), my notebook just seems to be handier. :) But, that is about how far I go when it comes to planning because I know I still need help with it in many aspects.

    I have realized though that planning ahead is tied with having a goal. If you have a vision of where you want to go, then it having a plan about how to get there is definitely a requirement. That is what I am working on now in my blogging and in my life.

    And, for the life of me, I can’t understand why people drive with their dogs on the front seat or on their laps! Do they think it’s cool that they are putting not just their lives and that of their dogs in harm’s way, but also others?

    • says

      Hi there Kim,

      Do you find you use your notebook more, of Evernote? Or does it depend on the environment?

      I must admit, having it on my Android makes it easier to make notes there and then (and I have a cool little voice recorder too, so that helps!) :)

  20. Graham Francois says

    Nice article but on an unrelated matter…

    Please don’t take pictures of stuff – especially pictures of other people doing stupid sh*t – while driving your car. As a motorcyclist, my life depends on planning ahead and constantly adjusting to a changing environment.

    Driving and (fill in the blank) makes that environment that much more unpredictable and dangerous. It’s like… driving with a dog in your lap.

  21. says

    I’m joining the conversation a little late. I remember the sayings of two different bosses I had in the newspaper industry.

    “Plan your work. Work your plan.”
    “Hope is not a plan. We’ll try is not a strategy.”

    Those phrases drove me nuts at the time, but I actually have them posted in my office these days. However, I think the bigger issue with planning is implementation.

    A few years back, I was a newspaper publisher and had a visit with a project director who was on her last gasp. A major project loomed and it had to succeed. We made a plan.

    A few weeks later, the project was a nightmare and I returned. “Did you do this?” I asked. “No.” “How about this? Or that? Or the other thing?” “No, no, no.”

    She implemented not a single point in her success plan. That made it easy for me to implement my plan that day.

    One of the top questions I receive from clients, prospective clients, and folks just “kicking the tires” is “will you actually do this?”

    Many books on business talk about the importance of planning, but we also need implementation.

    • says

      Clay, you make a great point here, mate, and so true.

      Everyone knows the saying, “The best laid plans”, but without seeing those plans through, you have jack.

      Here’s to more solid implementation after the plans, mate – cheers!