To plan or not to plan, that is the question.
There are a couple of cliches about planning that come to mind a lot. The first is “failure to plan is planning to fail.” The second: “If you want to make God laugh, make a plan.” I’m never sure if they contradict each other.
Honestly — and this is not a good thing — I gave up planning years and years ago. I had a career plan, but that got knocked off the rails by the time I was 30, and I never really made another one. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. (I’m 64.)
I repeat. This is not a good thing. It haunts me. The longer it continues, the darker and heavier the shadow grows. It is, finally, time to make a plan.
The Chris Brogan Example
That’s the basis for my three words for 2021. The annual three-words exercise was initiated in 2006 by my friend Chris Brogan as a simple way to develop focus for the year to come. They’re kind of like resolutions, but more broad, sort of “areas of focus.”
I have written three-words posts a few times since I first learned of it. I didn’t do one at the start of 2020, and maybe that’s just as well. But, in the spirit of reintroducing planning to my life, I’m back. Here are my three words for 2021:
Ha! That was an easy one. Truth is, I’m tired of feeling rudderless. The word “plan” covers a host of activities that I need to reincorporate into my life. I need to start my weeks with some sense of where I want to be by the end of the week. Likewise, I need to start my days with some idea of what I want / should accomplish. That applies to work, exercise, meditation, journaling and even meals.
This is another broad verb that I want to apply in a few different areas. In the process of “creating” — blogs, videos, courses, poems (maybe!) and stories — I want to create a life that I feel good about. I also want to create a healthier body and mind, better relationships, and stronger bonds with children and grandchildren.
This comes from a question that often troubles me, “Who do you serve?” Over the last year, my concept of service has evolved. I used to equate service with community service — volunteering at church or as a coach, donating to worthy causes, helping out at the food bank.
If you asked me to name somebody who lived a “life of service,” I’d probably come up with the late Mother Teresa or the late Sen. John McCain, who served his country both in the military and in Congress.
Neither were motivated by financial gain, but I’ve come to think that service and wealth (in a broad sense, not in the millionaire sense) are not mutually exclusive. In fact, people who serve well, provide value and add unexpected value can also be paid for their service by those who need it.
As Brogan or Seth Godin might say, I need to find my tribe, the people I can serve and who might even — eventually — pay me for that service. I’d much rather “serve” for a living than “work.”
With some good planning in 2021, I hope to create things that will be useful and of service.