I am not a planning sort of person.
But when I first started my company, I read seven hundred and fifty million websites about writing business plans. And at least ten library books and back issues of a bunch of online noozletters.
The majority of these expressed the opinion that not having a plan is incredibly stupid.
Some were less obnoxious about it than others, but basically they said it’s foolhardy and wasteful to not plan, so hurry up and get to it.
That if you want to get somewhere, you can’t just wander around aimlessly because guess what, that won’t get you there.
Fine. Whatever. So I wrote a plan.
I wanted a plan mainly because I was applying for a grant. And I was applying for a grant because I had no money and no idea what I was doing. Which is hard when you’re also on a mission to make important things happen.
The plan-writing was very stressful and time-consuming. Also completely depressing.
And I didn’t know about not sharing information about your tiny sweet thing with people who don’t have context, so I showed it to [X] and asked him for advice.
“Really? Your mission is to help thousands of people around the world with this? Thousands? Around the world? That’s great, honey, but maybe you want to start with something a little more realistic.”
Anyway. I didn’t apply for the grant. I threw away the plan. Five years passed. The plan was forgotten.
And then. Last week I remembered the plan.
Hey, it’s been nearly five years. Or it will be soon.
And you know what?
I do help thousands of people around the world. Every day. With this blog and with our products and programs. Huh. Whaddya know.
But not just that.
The astronomical-seeming (to me, at the time) figures that I projected the business would be bringing in?
They made me want to throw up, but I put them in anyway because I wanted it to seem like this terrifying experiment could — theoretically — be crazy successful.
So. We’re doing way better than that, as it turns out.
In fact, we’re doing better than all the projections. Than anything I could have projected.
Of course, I did it the hard way and worked myself to the bone for most of those years.
And I was wrong about all sorts of other things too.
But really, just about everything I wrote down came true. The how wasn’t anything like what I was trying to imagine it, but if you look at the end result, all the projections were on target.
So. Where am I going with this?
1. Not having a plan is not a big deal.
So I don’t do plans. And that’s okay.
Sure, I do maps. Loose ones. And wish-pondering. And Very Personal Ads. I think about what I want and why I want it and what my relationship is with the wanting.
And then I use Shiva Nata to
be smarter than everyone else give me hot buttered epiphanies so I can innovate and keep things sparkly.
But mostly I observe where I’m where I’m going and check in to find out if this seems like a good thing.
Pirate queens don’t have firm objectives. I don’t try to always steer the ship in one particular direction. I am open to stopping at unexpected and unlikely ports. And to hiding out on islands.
2. It’s a Useful Exercise to write down what you want. Maybe … in a plan.
Even though I still don’t really like plans, I’m writing a five year plan right now.
Just to mess with me-from-five-years-from-now.
(Though I may ask Metaphor Mouse to help me give it a better name.)
And I’m putting some completely outrageous things in there.
Oh, the projections I’m projecting. They’re preposterous! Really, the things I’m planning for are ludicrous to the point of hilarity.
But I don’t care. Because I did it before and surprised myself. So what the hell. Why not.
Here’s a super important thing to keep in mind.
Success happens exponentially.
But our brains often can’t conceptualize exponential growth. At least, mine can’t. Not easily.
When everything goes well, it doesn’t go from two to four to six to eight.
It’s more like going from two to four to a hundred.
It feels weird to project that kind of growth because it doesn’t seem right. It can’t be real. There’s no rationale.
Sure you could go from three fans to six fans if they each tell someone about you. But hundreds? Thousands? Why would that happen?
So even though I know from experience that growth can happen exponentially, it’s still easier to imagine things happening sequentially.
So we’re limited in our perception of what’s actually possible.
And that’s okay.
I don’t think it matters. Because it’s about play.
If projections scare you and set off your monsters, don’t do them.
If projections are exciting and send you off into worlds of possibility, yay.
If it’s fun to chart out plans and how things could work one way or another, go for it.
If planning stresses you out, and you’d rather just plant small wishes on the Sunday Very Personal Ads, that’s good too.
The main thing is this:
Is biggification turning into a dreaded, stressful, painful thing? Oh no! That sucks.
Because your thing (your art, your music, your blog, your teaching, your business) exists to be a source of good.
And when we’re miserable — because the experts say we need a plan or because we believe the people who can’t see possibility — that makes everything so much harder.
And I will say one more thing about play.
Play is NOT childish. Wanting to play is NOT childish. Play is the stuff of life and the essence of biggification.
We can play with writing a plan or we can play with not writing a plan. Or we can finger-paint a plan with chocolate pudding. Or we can do Ironic Aerobics while wearing a tiara.
But let’s play. Let’s play like we mean it.
A five year plan! To play, play, play and dance, dance, dance.
* And the lyrics! ♫
(For everyone who didn’t go to socialist summer camp when they were kids.)
Who will sing me nine, oh red fly the banners high? I will sing you nine, oh red fly the banners high!
Nine! Nine! The months of labor!
Eight! Eight! The Workers’ State!
Seven is for the day of rest, so the workers keep their zest.
Six! Six! The workers’ week.
Five is for the five year plan.
Four the years we did it in.
Three, three, the rights of the People!
Two is for the workers’ hands, soiled and toiled and horny hard.
One is for the workers’ unity which evermore shall be. Hey!
My childhood, while screwed up in so many other ways, was clearly AWESOME.
And comment zen for the comment blanket fort.
Make plans with me. Or don’t make plans. Or share stories about planning and not planning and ways to biggify that aren’t about what we think we should do but what is pleasurable and meaningful and full of curiosity and love.
As always, we let people have their own experience so no unsolicited advice.