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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Crucial Roles of Planning in Achieving Goals


Pursuing individual and organizational goals is unlikely to succeed without careful planning. Random, impulsive or reactive rather than pro-active actions will only lead to wasting money, time, effort and other resources. Careful planning will ensure that resources will be efficiently managed and will also allow individuals or organizations to anticipate possible obstacles. Both short-term and long-term goals require planning to facilitate their realization.

Plans are like geographical maps that show the overall view of a territory, whereby the routes can be plotted. Plans are far from being infallible or immutable but they can provide guides on the appropriate steps to take. Just like geographical maps, routes to a particular destination may vary and can be amended.
Road maps

Plans include a program of actions, allocation of resources, deadlines, and delegation of tasks. Plans are always aimed at achieving particular goals. Long-term goals will require more detailed and sophisticated planning that has intermediate steps. However, some room for flexibility should be included to allow adjustments in strategies when needed.

In some cases, it is necessary to have multiple plans that are intended for specific contingencies. Multiple plans can be arranged in terms of hierarchy of importance and based on the current circumstances. One general plan can be considered as a master plan while all others are mere contingency or alternative plans.
For example, a goal of starting a food cart business may have several business plans that could correspond to the available resources and based on anticipated demand or challenges. When the best suited plan is chosen, it has to be decisive but also flexible enough to allow some adjustments. Here are the general components of a plan.

1.) Goal details - Goal setting actually precedes planning but specific goals should be incorporated in a plan. Otherwise, it will be an aimless plan. It has to follow the basic SMART criteria of being specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely or time-bound.

2.) Program of actions - This includes the step-by-step procedures of accomplishing the ultimate goals. Long-term goals can be subdivided into intermediate or short-term goals that ultimately lead to accomplishing the long-term goals.

3.) Allocating resources - Achieving goals is impossible without exerting efforts, dedicating time, spending money, and investing other resources. Allocating resources involves budgeting and scheduling. This will ensure that wasting resources can be avoided or at least minimized. Efforts can be more focused and efficient in this manner.

4.) Delegation of tasks - Even when it comes to individual pursuits of goals, delegation of tasks is important. It could refer to asking other people for help in accomplishing specific tasks. Since individuals cannot possibly become experts on everything, it may be necessary to ask others for help either for pro bono basis or for a fee.

5.) Anticipating challenges - Plans are incomplete without their predictive or forecasting aspect. Actions can be made more efficient if obstacles are anticipated. In this manner, an individual or an organization will not be overwhelmed when difficult challenges arise. Although not all contingencies can be predicted, it is still best to be prepared.

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