My students sometimes bristle a bit when I insist that they make a detailed plan for getting work and developing a career once they are released from prison. One day I said, in a kind of off-hand way, something I'd heard years ago - "If you're not working your plan, you're working someone else's."
Here's a quick example. Let's say you have a goal to get out of debt, and you have a friend who sells cool kitchen gadgets on-line, or clothing, or candles. If you are really working your plan, paying off debt first, you may have to pass by the kitsch your friend is selling. Without a plan, you are more likely to succumb to the allure of your friend's products, which is, in fact, your friend's plan. Not to judge your friend's plan - it's just not yours and could be deleterious to your plan.
My students fall into this trap all the time, and it's one of the main reasons, I think, that they are re-incarcerated. They don't have a plan to stay out of prison. They fall in with their old friends and cohorts (who are also only temporarily out) and then they fall into the same bad habits - drugs, violence, robbery. They lack the laser-like focus of a plan that they believe in. A few have a plan, follow it, and do great. I can attest to the fact that the difference between the guys that get out and make an incredible life for themselves and the guys that get out and fail is simply the plan.
Planning begins with belief - the solid feeling that what you are doing, what you are trying to achieve is important.
Working your own plan doesn't mean you can't coordinate your plans with the people you love and care about - in fact, there's intense power in synergy and interdependence.
More on planning next week!