Looking into successful people over the years I’ve noticed a number of common traits. The one I want to look at today may be one of the most important, and that’s planning.
In the immoratl words of Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
Almost every successful person had a plan, very few just lucked into where they are and I wouldn’t put much faith in that sort of thing happening to me. The important thing is focusing on what we can change, and luck is not one of those things. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a very complicated plan, I’m sure you could cite some artists who think they never planned but just made their art, but I’d say that their dedication to art amounts to a certain plan. What we focus our thoughts and energy on is in essence our plan, the question is whether or not your plan has been consciously shaped or simply arose out of chance and habit. The problem with the second variety is that we tend to take the path of least resistance you’ll probably get by this way but end up with a lot of regrets if your a person with ambitions.
I know this from experience, I’m a guy with lots of ambition but I have a problem with follow through. Right now I’m pretty darn proud that this blog has lasted a whole week, I usually drop projects faster than that. This isn’t chance, this blog is a conscious choice on my part to try and point myself towards the life I want, forcing myself to take the little steps that will hopefully add up.
The first step in making a plan is deciding what you want. The trick is deciding where you want to end up and then figuring out step by step how to get there. People usually just do one or the other and just end up frustrated.
With that in mind I’m going to list the things I want to make priorities in 2013:
- Graduate from School
- Move to Japan
- Learn 10,000 Japanese sentences
- Finish my Animated short film
- Finish making a mixtape with my rap group
- Lose 20 pounds through diet and exercise
I kind of want to include something about this blog, but I’m honestly not sure quite yet what I want this to be. In the back of my head I want to add something like, “write 500 words a day,” but that doesn’t really fit because of how I’m approaching this.
You see I think good goals are tangible. They actually have an end point. When I originally wrote this list point 3 was simply “learn Japanese.” The problem is that goal is incredibly poorly defined, it could mean any number of things. Instead I went with a system that I can break down into steps, that I can measure and that I can really appraise myself based on. The 10,000 sentence plan comes from a website called All Japanese All the Time, I’ve been stuck around 2000 for far too long, but so far this past month I’ve come back in a big way.
Looking at the list and thinking of everything I want to accomplish seems daunting, until I do the next step, which is to break down my plans into doable chunks. For example, with my Japanese studies I’ve committed to studying 35 new sentences a day, which is doable and will get my to 10,000 by the end of the year. The thing is, if I had kept up my studies I would have been there by now even doing 15 a day, which goes to show that slow and study beats uneven bursts of studying.
Well, it’s time for me to go get myself something to eat and then do some more studying. My parting question is, what sort of things would you like to do this year? What would you like to create? What skills would you like to develop on your way along the Renaissance path?