Goodwill wishes for the New Year are going around. I have also sent and received a few, too, some came from unexpected quarters. Now, it is very well for someone to wish you well at this time, but surely you cannot base your year’s success on wishes alone, be they your wishes plus those of your prayerful friends and relations. Remember the expression about beggars and wishes?
Definitions are useful here. A wish is a yearning, aspiration, inclination, craving, longing or fancy. Plan on the other hand means preparation, arrangement, map or chart.
Despite the obvious difference one action (wishing) leads to another (planning). I suppose this is why a lot of us imagine them as the same thing. Everyone has a wish but a very small percentage have a plan. Wishing is the ‘what’ of your need. Planning is the ‘how’. It defines methods you will use to get the ‘what’.
A lot of us are even afraid to define their wish. We tend to find it so much easier to talk about what we do not want rather than what we want. But knowing what you don’t want is not the same thing as knowing what you want.
To use football analogy; only defending and actually stopping the other team from scoring is not winning the game. At best it will get you a draw. To guarantee a win, you must strike, or get lucky to have the other fellows score an own goal!
Unfortunately the second option does not happen very often and, even then, you will need the ball to be in the neighborhood of the opponent’s goal. In short, the wish must be positively and properly defined. It is important to write this down. Writing it down is important. It commits you and also helps eliminate vagueness in the wish. It also makes review easier.
After this we go to the ‘how’. This too should be in writing. Important things to consider would be the time span the ‘wish’ would take to achieve, what actions will be taken to realize the ‘wish’ and how you will review progress. Putting a time span makes it possible to measure progress being made towards realizing your dream.
The setting of actions helps you not ‘go over your head’ and going about this will also compel you to set targets that can be realized reasonably. This ‘grounding’ enables you to be better focused.
It is very important that you not only know what you want but more importantly why you want it, too. This helps you in two ways; one, you will easily develop an alternative plan should the first one not succeed. The yearning and hunger created by the reasons for the wish also keeps hope alive in tough times where wish makes reality.
Secondly, a plan is as good as its implementation. A bad plan well executed is so much better than a good plan badly executed or not executed at all. The worst situation is that of no plan being in place. It is the surest way of achieving zero. Third, self discipline and determination is paramount. Sticking to the plan may actually make the difference between success and failure. Regular evaluation and follow up is also crucial; this calls for persistence and positive thinking.
In case you are wondering when, in the year, is the best time to plan? NOW! Truthfully, you should have planned from October last year and started execution from January1 but now that you did not, you plan and execute now. Sounds haphazard? Perhaps it is, but this approach is easier because it calls for flexibility and adaptability.
The worst case scenario is when you have no plan. You can only be part of someone’s plan, unwittingly too. I wish you a planned and prosperous new year.
Sam Kebongo is a skills and business advisory services consultant. He teaches entrepreneurship at Rwanda Tourism University College.