Sunday, 10 September 2017

When Planning Becomes Procrastination

Like many others, I am drawn to various quotes. They can act as a reminder or a prompt about an action, or the consequences of not taking an action.

One that comes to mind is:

“Fail to plan and plan to fail”.

Today I am wondering how useful this really is.

I am not suggesting planning is a bad thing. If we simply dive in without considering the pros and cons of an idea or concept and the steps involved to execute, we may fluke a positive outcome but more likely the opposite will unfold.

I do wonder however if planning can become a vehicle for procrastination.

Many a venture has failed to start because there is always one more detail to address, one more issue to pre-empt or one more problem to anticipate; more time is always needed.

This thought process has been prompted by my own procrastination over recent weeks. I have been developing plans for a concept under research for about 18 months. Each day the planning I do becomes more complicated and more detailed, which of itself is not such a bad thing. In my case, it reached the stage where it was “planning for the sake of planning”, and when I self-analyse why, the answer I get is quite revealing.

I am delaying actually starting. I look for reasons to stay in the planning stage rather than moving to execution. When I delve deeper, I am satisfied the reasons for procrastination are not fear of failure or concern about loss of capital.

If it fails it fails and by definition, very few would even know. The financial commitment to start is minimal so losing the investment would not be particularly painful.

So, why my delay?

Deep down, I don’t believe it will work.
I would be entering an already oversaturated market with a product and service that has no differentiating feature or unique benefit. Bluntly, if I was the consumer, I wouldn’t change brands to that which I am developing.

The reality is, as much as I would like to enter this market, I have been more attached to the idea than I have been to actually doing it. While I am in the planning phase, I can have meaningful discussions with all and sundry about what I am doing. If I actually “start”, these aspirational conversations cease, replaced by outcomes and these would not be pretty.  

Many good ideas and concepts fail because there is insufficient planning as the overwhelming tendency is to be impatient to actually start. To be stuck in the planning stage combined with a lack of impatience probably requires a very honest self-discussion to determine “why”.

My next step? Move to Plan B, although in reality, it is more like Plan M.

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