Six Steps of Planning

As the adage goes: “fail to plan, plan to fail.” Most adults go through life by the seat of their pants. And that’s why many live paycheck to paycheck and will never experience life the way they want.

Whether you’re looking to plan your retirement, start a new business, buy a car, or take a vacation, planning is a must.

There are six steps to creating a plan.

Step One: Goal Setting

This first step is a bit obvious. You need to have a goal in mind. One example would be “to buy a new car.”

Without a goal, there’s no plan and without a plan, there’s no direction for your future.

Step Two: Research

Start talking about your goal and research what it will take to fulfill it.

If the goal were to buy a new car, start looking at types of cars, specifications and so forth.

Step Three: Weigh Options

There’s almost never just one way to do something. Explore your choices.

Using our auto example, some options would be the type of vehicle to buy, the price range, the color and how to pay for it.

Step Four: Direction

Now that you have a goal, knowledge of that goal, and options towards obtaining it, you’re now ready to decide the best course of action.

Sticking with the auto example, the action decided might be:

  • Get a raise at work.
  • Purchase a white 2008 Dodge Durango within six months after the raise.
  • Wait until the price is $xx,xxx or lower.
  • Obtain financing at X% or better for X months.

As you can see, there’s a clear path. The first step is to get a raise at work, and that’s what you’ll focus on initially. Once you have the raise, it’s all about finding the vehicle with the price and criteria you planned for.

Step Five: Begin

Many people fail at this step. It can be relatively easy to make a plan up to this point. But, here’s where it’s time to put in the work.

In our above example, the first step was to get a raise at work. You would now figure out what it will take to get that raise and go about making it happen. Perhaps you simply need to wait for a timed raise or you may need to work harder.

Always remember what you’re working for, but don’t get caught looking ahead. Focus on the current step in your plan and execute it.

Step Six: Adapting

The most successful people in the world are those that can adapt to current situations. Sometimes opportunities will open up and you’ll need to revise your plan to take advantage of them.

Here’s a great example of adapting for a purchasing decision.

Imagine you have planned to purchase a new TV. You want to pay all cash, because you know that credit cards are bad to use for this type of purchase. The TV you want is normally $1,500 at the store and you’re saving up for it.

One day you spot an ad in the Sunday paper and the TV is on sale for $1,199. You have $600 in cash saved thus far. What should you do?

By adapting your plan and using your credit card, you can save $300. And this is where making a decision to adapt comes in.

Plan and Succeed

Planning is vital. It allows you to see exactly what it takes to accomplish a goal.

Don’t just take each day as it comes. Spend some time and think about what you want to accomplish in life.

I showed you how even the smallest of events, like buying a TV, can be planned and executed better.

About the Author

Jason A. MartinJason A. Martin is a freelance writer & graphic designer who's been a self-employed entrepreneur for 18 years. He has a journalism degree from UNLV, has written about his experience in investing (stocks, currency exchange, real estate, etc) for various websites and is currently pursuing his accountancy degree. You can follow him on Twitter @JasonAMartin.View all posts by Jason A. Martin →