Planning and doing have a complicated relationship. They work great together but aren’t so efficient when you do one without the other. Some people have a difficult time finding the right balance and end up focusing on one way more than the other, causing lack of progress. Ironically, the remedy for “overplanning” is to do and vice versa for if you “overdo”. It sounds like a cruel riddle but it’s actually true.
To clarify the context here, the planning I’m referring to is preparing your next move or the strategizing before the attack. While the doing is the actual attack or the actual activities that move the business closer to where you want it to be. As Stephen Covey would describe it, the plan is just the first creation. It’s the blueprint, and the action is the actual building. A problem many entrepreneurs face is getting stuck on either side and never striking an effective balance.
I started this year on the doer spectrum, as I wanted to have consistent content every month. Like clockwork, I would produce a new blog every 2 weeks. The momentum was great, but I suddenly ran out of ideas of what topics to write about, so I went back into planning mode. I had never planned my content strategy properly, which led me to that dilemma. As I delved back into planning, my productivity (doing) slowed down. I felt like I needed the perfect strategy before I typed another letter. I researched and studied multiple courses on content marketing and strategy, then woke up one morning and realized I hadn’t written a blog in 4 months. It made me wonder what was the correct ratio of planning to doing to be successful because I was sure that this wasn’t it.
First I looked at where I was, a full-time planner and little action-taker. The planners have great detailed plans but they find it difficult to move into the doer phase. They usually want everything done perfectly, which can be a drawback to moving forward because nothing can be truly perfect. This result in them spending months on the drawing board before they even take any action if any at all. The best thing about the planner is that they are prepared, months in advance and can explain how each action can help them reach towards their goal.
In comparison to the extreme doer, who hardly sets any goals or any concrete strategy on how they plan to reach those goals. They are defined by the way they take swift action that they believe to be progressive. Unfortunately, by only doing, they can get sidetracked from their goals and could end up very far from where they wanted to be, and this could result in wasted time, energy and resources. The plus to being a doer, is that action instigates momentum, and you can achieve quite a lot quickly. You will also learn about your industry faster than the planner, as experience is the best teacher.
Clearly, the only sensible solution to this dilemma is a partnership between the two spectrums. One without the other simply cannot be effective towards success. But even in that partnership, there must be a formula for how to integrate the both. I wish the answer was black and white, but the fact is that every person or business situation is different, and setting goals and achieving them is the only way you can be sure that you are close to your planner/ doer balance.
The best advice I can give, from my journey thus far, is that realizing what stage your business is in, can determine what you should focus on more. In the early phases of the business, planning is key. You should spend most of your time planning but you should still be doing the little things that can move your business forward. These include the basics such as ensuring your business is registered and creating systems for how the business would operate, along with advancing your skills. Between this point and actually starting the business is a gray area because you want to ensure that you know enough about your industry, business, and direction to offer a unique product/ service. That doesn’t mean perfect as yet because while you are planning, someone else is building, so you should aim to launch as soon as you feel capable and competent to help your ideal client solve the problem that your business was created to solve. Then, from the moment you launch, your focus should switch to mostly doing but planning is still necessary. Do weekly and monthly checks to ensure that you are on track with your goals and alter strategies where possible. Remember your plan does not have to be fixed, if you notice that something is not working you can change it to maximize your effectiveness. Only through doing will you really see how effective your plan really is.
There is also one other category that I didn’t mention which are the dreamers. If we were building a house a dreamer simply dreams of having a house, and that’s it. The planner draws up the blueprint and the doer is already putting up walls. For the dreamers, and I have been there too, I encourage you to start today. Start researching what it will take to make your dreams become a reality and create a plan that will help you take the right action to get there.
Are you a dreamer, planner, doer or all three. Put it in the comments below and like Paperclip Media on Facebook and paperclipmedia_tt on Instagram for more on the finding the balance series.