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In the book First Things First, Stephen Covey wrote about how we should begin our lives with our legacy in mind, and he went further by writing in this (mainly but not exclusively) time management book that we should plan each week with the same objective – a plan that we would execute during the week to ensure that by the end of that week we had achieved what we’d set out to do.

Stated within those pages but not as clearly to me as he had intended – my fault, not his – was the idea that Begin(ning) with the End in Mind applied to everything we do, not just life-, work- or daily-plans, but even the most routine stuff.

This was brought home to me last week when I went for a long run and limped home afterwards because I had neglected to consider the condition of my feet, specifically a ruddy great toenail that decided towards the end of my run to incise the adjacent toe and cause a rush of blood into my sock.

I consider this concept to be the reason why I love using my personal planning system. It does look nice and it is exceptionally convenient to use, but the most practical benefit for me is that when I put something down in it, whether it be a task or an appointment, I am immediately pushed to thinking about what preparation is needed for that item.

If it’s an appointment, what paperwork will I need, what travel plans are necessary (maps, then satnav – always!), what else can I be doing while I am travelling/waiting/in the area, etc. If it’s a task there are similar considerations, like have I got the tools/equipment/skills/money that I need and, if not, where can I get it and what else can I get/do while I’m collecting it. (That’s a skill developed after a day where I visited a hardware store 5 times in one day – that’s another story.) If the plan involves other people I can look towards deciding what they can or could bring to the party, what their needs are and what I can do about them.

The final, practical benefit of a paper planning system is that when these thoughts arise I am already sat in front of the very thing I need to make the plans and plan the actions that have arisen just out of the one, original intention. Of course you can do all that on a tablet, although the jumping between programmes can be a nightmare for the slightly less e-inclined.

(I know, Samsung S-Memo, Evernote and the undoubted i-equivalent do have their uses but pen and paper is a lot quicker unless and until you’re used to them. What’s more, paper’s batteries never run out and paper never crashes. And you can file paper for EVER when your hardware gets full or old.)

Since everything we do has an objective (or we shouldn’t be doing it – what is the objective for watching soap operas?), then everything we do has an End in Mind towards which we should plan, and in respect of which we should execute that plan. Many generals have said “Planning is everything, but plans are nothing”, reflecting the older adage, “No plan survives initial contact with the enemy”, but their point is always – planning is a necessary and fundamental part of success. Once you know the End I Mind you can change the plan. But if you don’t know the End, or you don’t have a Plan, you haven’t started yet.

The only sad part about getting good at this? Is that you get so good that you don’t notice you’re doing it.

Weekly Challenge

Consider obtaining some sort of planning system – electronic or paper, it’s up to you and you don’t have to take my absolutely true, effective and unarguable word that paper is better. Take your time and really consider investing in a quality system (Daytimer, Daytimer UK, Franklin Covey or FranklinCovey UK, TimeSystem US or UK, or Filofax, the bigger you can manage, the better) Then learn how to best use it in your own situation, and commit to doing so for at least 31 days. By which time you’ll probably be a lot better at doing what you want to do, when it needs to be done, and at the level of execution excellence you seek.

Which is the end you have in mind, surely?

 Blog Part

Last week I said my weight loss for the previous 7 days had been disappointing. This week I ‘only’ lost 2.5lbs but as long as that carries on I’ll be at my target weight at around the intended point. I’ve also discovered that I can no longer eat heavy meals (and not THAT heavy) without feeling bloated and uncomfortable afterwards, which will pay dividends. Tony Robins opines that eating poorly is one of the causes of ‘the common cold’ because the symptoms of a ‘common cold’ are only the body trying to divest itself of all the rubbish we tend to eat around Thanksgiving (USA) and Christmas (everywhere). It may be true – the last two weeks, after eating a heavy meal, my nose has been blocked for the next 24 hours, whereas the rest of the week it feels fine. Food for thought. (See what I did there?)

For some reason running has been feeling harder but the times are sound. This suggests that I am running faster at first, so getting puffed out, then slowing down to reach the distance in the same time. Logical, but does it mean I’m hitting my maximum speed? I hope not because it means that no matter how far I run I’ll run at 8 and a bit mph! Which means a sub-2 hour half marathon if/when I get there, but never any better.

I’ve focused a lot of attention on spreading the word via social media (like this site, Facebook, and Twitter – @3resolutionsguy). I’ve also started readying myself for some more goals, because after I lose weight and assuming I stay where I get I will have to have something more to focus on. Like a new job……..