I recently saw a cleverly designed GIF that claimed that innovation turns dreams into reality. If the medium is the message then some will take this message seriously. Anyone who has done any planning knows that it is not true.
Dreams turn into reality along a different path. One that requires more work and more time.
First the dream. Dreams are nice but that’s about it. Planners convert the dream to missions. A dream can be too soft for practical action. Clarify it with some “W” questions. What do I want? (Exactly.) When do I want it? Who will participate? What resources do I have to apply to the problem?
Second – The method. There are usually more than one way to go about getting what you want with what you have. You will need to pick the one that is most comfortable. That is not necessarily the best tool for the purpose, but if the best tool is uncomfortable, you will quit unless there is near instant success and most complex goals are not so easy as that. You may need to consult with someone to find the choices and their details.
Third – The Logistics. Or as Nike says, “Just do it.” The implementation is what connects your dream to the real world. Apply the tool. Sometimes it is a long process that needs attention every day. If you have a child whose dream is to be a doctor, the logistic process essentially says, “Go to school and learn what they have to teach.”
A goal that cannot connect to what you need to do today is not really a goal. It is still in the dream phase. You can procrastinate with dreams. Not so much with well defined goals.
Where does innovation come in? Innovation comes in during the fourth step. Review and revise. No plan is so good that it will just happen if you do what you initially think you should. The real world is complicated. Things change. You change. The review and revise step loops back to amend the first three steps in new and better ways.
Do not fall in love with your initial plan. You probably won’t have it exactly the same way for very long. Do Plan A, but be alert for plan B, and watch for C, D and E too. I wonder if Preparation H was the eighth attempt at solving the problem.
Your financial plan has pieces, like a retirement plan, but there should be an overall plan that governs the rest of your life and even beyond. Specific plans work better when they are attached to something bigger.
You can have a good plan today but as the surrounding world changes, you will need to change too. As the saying goes, “There is nothing less effective than a rational plan in a world that has become irrational.”
Review, rethink, revise, and restart works. You don’t have to be right the first time as long as you are willing to change when you learn more.
Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.
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