Action plan.


Draw up a manageable action plan and make it happen.

“No action no change” James Banham. Simple but true.

What is it that often makes it so difficult to do something that we know is important to our future well-being but we just cannot find the motivation, desire or energy to do it?

Procrastination is nothing new, it was first identified as far back as the ancient Greek philosophers Socrates and Aristotle who described such behaviour as “Akrasia”. It is all linked to the simple factor that the human finds it difficult to resist immediate reward for longer term gain.

A simple example, it is old year’s night and your New Year’s resolution is to lose two stone over the coming year, a perfectly reasonable and achievable objective, the health benefits and feel good factor are strong motivational aids. Come the 2nd January, first day back at work, a desk to clear and the phone continuously ringing, by four O’clock with at least three hours more work to do and not having had time to stop and get anything to eat a considerate manger brings in a tray of fresh cream donuts. You have not eaten since breakfast, if you pass this chance up you won’t get anything until you get home and cook something, say eight O’clock.

Let us be honest the temptation is fairly great, you can put up a fairly convincing case and it is only January 2nd you do have the rest of the year! The antidote to having any chance of resisting the temptation is not to have allowed yourself to get into the extreme position you find yourself in. If you are serious about losing the weight put a plan together so that you avoid being in that position. Make sure you have some healthy snack bars in your draw, take a healthy packed lunch, first day back after a holiday is usually  chaotic, plan for it. Remove some of the excuses you can use for taking the donut and indulging in the immediate self-gratification which will conflict with the far worthier longer term objective of losing the weight.

Running a business in many ways is very similar, it has two parts to it:

  • The day to day running of the business, working “In” the business.
  • The longer-term strategy which involves working “On” the business.

The day to day is delivering whatever it is you do, satisfying the needs and wants of your customers today, receiving the immediate benefits of delivering now and avoiding potential grief for not delivering, akrasia. The problem is this can take over from ensuring that you are still busy in the future.

The argument that you just cannot spare the time I am too busy is not a valid one. “The graveyards are full of indispensable men” C. De Gaulle. 

In the past you may have been able to get away without planning and looking forward, but not in today’s dynamic world, remember the statistic on the dramatic fall in the average life of a company from 1958 – 61 years to 18 years in 2015.

There is no substitution for identifying:

  • what needs to be done to achieve the goals set.
  • Prioritising them.
  • Breaking them down into manageable sized actions.
  • Allocating someone to have ownership of the action.
  • A time line for completion.

Aristotle defined the antonym to “akrasia”, “enkrateia”, which is the state of performing what is known to be a positive choice because of its positive longer term consequences as opposed to “akrasia” which is making a choice in favour of immediate pleasures.

You may not be planning for the future, but a penny to the pound that somebody is!

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