You’re facing a decision or problem. It could be at work or in your personal life. You could be taking this step alone or with a team. Whatever the scenario, you need a plan. Planning is important for organizations, like a business wanting to expand its reach, and for individuals, like a person who wants to switch jobs. Some projects take more planning than others, but the choices in our lives need a little bit of thought. Here are ten reasons why planning is important:
#1. Planning helps you set appropriate goals
Before you begin to plan, you likely have an idea about what you’re hoping to accomplish. Planning helps you refine that goal and determine if it’s realistic or not. As an example, you might want to increase sales at your job to a specific number. After taking the time to plan, you realize that number was a bit too high based on factors outside your control. You adjust your goal based on this new information.
#2. Planning breaks a problem or goal into smaller pieces
Many problems or goals in your life will be complicated. There are often more than just two paths you could take, so it’s not a matter of just flipping a coin. It can be very overwhelming. Planning helps break down the issue into smaller pieces and distribute tasks when applicable. Even if you’re the only one facing the dilemma, planning turns a larger, more abstract thing into bite-sized activities. It’s like paving a road brick by brick to a resolution in the distance.
#3. Planning reveals weaknesses (and strengths)
As you work through a plan and look at it from every angle, you’ll notice what makes the plan weak and what makes it strong. This is an essential part of planning because if you steamrolled ahead toward your goal, you could end up sabotaging yourself early on. Thinking critically about your plan’s flaws helps you make adjustments. Taking note of its strengths affirms if it’s a good idea.
#4. Planning increases certainty and confidence
Uncertainty is part of every new project or problem-solving endeavor. That creates fear. When you take the time to plan well, you’ll see a boost in your confidence and an increase in certainty. No one can predict the future and there will always be surprises, but planning gives you a much clearer idea about what lies ahead.
#5. Planning increases efficiency
You’ve no doubt heard about projects where people didn’t plan well enough. There’s a big focus on the embarrassment of defeat, but it’s important to also note how much waste occurred. That includes wasted money, talent, and time. Even if a project doesn’t completely fail, the lack of planning means it took more resources than necessary to reach the finish line. Planning well increases efficiency and prevents waste.
#6. Planning reduces risk
Because we can’t know the future, every new endeavor involves risk. In many scenarios, the level of risk determines whether a project or idea can move forward. If your goal involves others – like an organization or a team – the level of risk can determine if they’re willing to give you a shot. How can you address this concern? Explain your plan. You can prove that you’ve thought through the challenges and are prepared to adjust as needed. You show that you’ve done everything you can to reduce risk.
#7. Planning increases your credibility
Speaking of working with organizations and teams, being a good planner is one of the best ways to earn credibility. If you’re in a leadership position (or hope to be), your ability to guide the planning process will determine how successful and respected you are. Good planners know how to set clear, realistic goals and what needs to happen for that goal to be achieved.
#8. Planning encourages creativity
Breaking a big goal into small parts, analyzing the weaknesses, and coming up with ways to reduce risk make a great recipe for innovation. Creative thinkers – like artists, musicians, and writers – often talk about how the boundaries and problem-solving of planning force them to stretch their minds.
#9. Planning improves decision-making
Is it possible to make a good decision without enough information? When you plan, you gather the information necessary to make a thoughtful, well-rounded decision. You’re aware of the challenges and possible problems, which helps you make better decisions each step of the way.
#10. Planning equals more peace of mind
There are many planning benefits – increased efficiency, reduced risk, boosted creativity – but there’s one last benefit that shouldn’t be ignored: peace of mind. Any project or idea that requires a plan will trigger some stress. Planning strips a lot of the uncertainty from the future and boosts your confidence. You’ve thought through everything. You’ve weighed the pros and cons. Stress probably won’t evaporate completely, but you have more peace of mind than you did before planning.