Many creative people struggle with planning. Writing in Coaching the Artist Within, psychologist and creativity expert Eric Maisel suggests “Five Golden Rules of Planning” to help creative people set their goals and formulate better, more realistic, more effective short and long range plans.
Too often our best and well-intended plans fail – let’s be honest – reinforcing our reluctance to plan. Just thinking of plans can make us anxious and brings up all the old plans that didn’t work out for any number of reasons. Gahhhh. So now we have a strong negative reaction, an aversion to planning, we hate to plan!
On the other hand, we all know that old saw about how failing to plan is planning to fail. Yet we are driven and determined to make meaning and create. So how do we get ourselves out of this Catch-22?
Try these planning steps.
1. Plan for Each Day
Make a simple daily plan. Maisel suggests using no parameters beyond the stark clarity of: I intend to write (pain/compose/play) every day. In essence, this commits you to honoring the process daily.
2. Plan for the Long Haul
Have a flexible long range plan reflecting the long term creative journey you envision for yourself and your way of making meaning according to your personal mission statement. This longer term plan includes meaningful quantitative measurements and interim goals, or bench marks or milestones, such as completing a specific number of pieces by a certain date. This requires essentially working toward specific goals and honoring the goal-oriented process.
3. Reality Check
Use common sense. Be sure your plans are realistic in the sense that you are not allowing your enthusiasm to take you to pie-in-the-sky fantasy land of what could reasonably be accomplished. It’s good to stretch, yes, but don’t set yourself up to fail from the start!
Tailor your plan to fit YOU. Be sure your plan reflects your personal work habits and what works best for you, your schedule, and your energy levels.
5. Check In Often
Re-evaluate your plan periodically. About once a week, ask yourself honestly if you have been sticking to your plan? How does the long term plan look? Are you on pace to meet it? If not, either adjust your behavior accordingly, or change the plan so it is more workable.
Do you consciously make (and follow!) plans? Do you have a standing daily plan? A long range plan? How is it working out for you?
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