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What Are Your Plans for Tomorrow?

By Kevin on March 1, 2011 in career, Success
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This is a guest post from John Chancellor and his Teach the Soul blog.

Without a purpose, nothing should be done.
Marcus Aurelius
121 – 180

My work involves helping people achieve their goals. I want to share an exercise I sometimes use with the people I coach: I simply ask them what they have planned the next day.

Most of the time, this question catches them off balance. But some quickly recover and start outlining the tasks they’ll be engaged in the following day. A couple of weeks ago, I asked this question to a young man I was helping. He was silent a few minutes, but then he outlined a rather full schedule: arrive at work by 8; an important staff meeting at 10; lunch with a key client at 12:45; PTA meeting at 7 pm.

After he finished relating this list, I asked another question. “Is there a difference between scheduling and planning? It sounds to me like you just recited your schedule. I didn’t hear a lot of planning in what you said.”

He was completely off balance now. Most people have never thought of the distinction between planning and scheduling. We often fill our day with activities, but rarely do we stop to consider how many of those activities we should really pursue. And we aren’t proactive about the results we expect to get from the activities we schedule.

While he was still thinking about the difference between planning and scheduling, I asked him the question I really wanted him to consider. “How will the activities you have scheduled for tomorrow help move you toward your long term goals?

There was a long, awkward silence as he absorbed that last question and its implications.

When he finally responded, he admitted that there was very little planning associated with his schedule; he had not thought about the results he wanted to achieve from those activities. He also confessed that there was very little connection between his long term goals and those events.

My purpose was not to beat him up or make him feel guilty, but to get him to think about how we achieve our long term goals. We all have hopes and dreams of a better, more fulfilling life. Some people have even taken the time and energy to document their goals in writing. But we often fail to connect the dots between our current activities and the realization of our long term goals.

Are you living in reactive mode? Are there things you don’t like about your current circumstances? Consider this fact: our future circumstances are largely determined by our current activities. If the things we do each and every day aren’t in alignment with our long term goals, our long term goals will always be a dream.

Take a moment to think about your plans for today and how they fit with your long term goals. What could you start doing today to move yourself closer to your long term goals?

The true worth of a man is to be measured by the objects he pursues.
Marcus Aurelius

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Kevin Kruse is a NY Times bestselling author and keynote speaker. Get more success and tips from his newsletter at kevinkruse.com and check out keynote video clips. His new book, Employee Engagement 2.0, teaches managers how to turn apathetic groups into emotionally committed teams.

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