Confessions of a Plan-aholic

My name is Laurel, and I’m a plan-aholic. You’ll recognize me by these qualities:

  • I can’t get enough data. I am constantly looking for new information to be absolutely certain that I’m not “making a decision in a vacuum”. I pride myself on making well-informed decisions – even if it does take me weeks (or even months) to make the decision.

  • Even when I have my plan defined and know where I want to go, I can’t seem to actually implement my plan. I get paralyzed, wondering if there is something else that I should be doing before I get started. I begin thinking of every contingency plan, of everything that could go wrong, and start planning for those.

  • When I finally do get started, fear of making a mistake and not achieving perfection overwhelms me. I begin thinking about how just one misspelled word is disaster and reflects horribly on me. I don’t include others in my planning, because I don’t want someone else’s error attached to my name, and if it goes precisely as I have planned, I, of course, want all of the credit for myself.
  • Then when I have finished my “masterpiece” I begin second-guessing the entire plan, or dwelling on the next thing, rather than just stopping to enjoy the success of completion.

Planning is crucial, but over planning usually hinders more than it helps.

While I still rely on my plan-aholic tendencies like a crutch, I’ve started to embrace some awesome upsides to planning less.

  1. I become more nimble and am able to respond to trends, situations, circumstances, opportunities, and competitive shifts when I dial down my obsession for information.
  2. I allow myself to be more real, more human, when I don’t force perfection or the appearance of perfection.
  3. I enjoy the process more when I’m focused on the meaning, content, and outcome, rather than on my reputation or credibility.
  4. I enable others to have success by letting them step in and share their strengths instead of thinking that my plans are the best ones.
  5. I encourage innovation and greater creativity by not controlling the outcome.
  6. I gain confidence in my own decision-making when I allow intuition and discernment to play a role in my planning.

For those of you plan-aholics, I’d love to know what positive things you’ve seen come from loosening up on the reigns a bit.

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