It’s said that Abraham Lincoln said that if he had eight hours to chop down a tree he’d spend the first six sharpening the ax. Preparation and planning are two of the keys to success.

Now, I must admit that I’m not one of those people who maps out 5-year and 10-year plans. I do, however, plan out my week and my day. One of the best habits I ever cultivated was taking a few minutes at the beginning of each week to look over my schedule and make a general plan. Then, every evening I look over my schedule for the next day. Knowing what I have planned actually helps me to adjust my schedule to include the unexpected.

I set goals for myself, complete with action steps and a time line. Without a time line, it’s too easy to let weeks, months, years go by without moving any closer to those goals. Action steps are necessary. Almost any task is easier if broken down into steps. Action steps in pursuit of a goal make it much more likely that I’ll achieve that goal. As I complete each action step I can see myself getting closer to the goal, which fuels my determination to reach the goal.

There are lots of resources out there for helping you to plan. Trial and error are the only real way to figure out which works for you. I’m a pen and ink girl. I don’t do well with electronic planners. I know others for whom electronic planners have been life-changing. I also don’t do well with the typical planner. After struggling with one system after another for years I finally created my own—a hybrid of several different methods.

At first the planning time may seem awkward. That’s natural. After all, you’re making a change and there’s always a learning curve with change. Whatever system you choose, no matter how simple or complex, make the time to plan. It’s well worth it.


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