It’s that time of year for a fresh start, laying to bed the year gone by and putting down on paper how different 2024 is going to be. We should all have a plan; our world might not go to that plan (I am 100% certain it won’t) but we all want the plan. Why? It’s in our psyche, it’s the way we are wired – we need it.

No undertaking, whether it’s sending a shuttle into space or your kids off to school, is done well without a plan. Planning is a fundamental cognitive skill. It is the ability to think about where we want to be, what that future may look like and how we are going to get there. We do it because it helps us to feel in control, it helps put our lives in order and maybe even just manage expectations.

“The most effective plans are those that specify when, where and how you want to act on your goals” ( 2017) whether in business or in your personal life. If you know where you are trying to get to and some notion of how you will do it – you are more likely to succeed.

If you don’t feel you are very good at planning, then you are in luck – as with all cognitive skills it can be improved. Simple steps such as being open-minded and being curious along with the old adages of a good night’s sleep and some physical or mental activity, all add up to better cognitive function.

It also helps that you are not required to hand in a ten-thousand-word dissertation on the strategic decision making of your life/project/business. Your plan can be as simple as bullet points or a mind map however it is crucial that you do write it down. Back to that cognitive thinking again – it enables a higher level of thinking, makes your mind more efficient and helps it to focus on the important stuff.

When it comes to what you should put in a plan, it is very much down to how you process information. Some people think big, like overarching strategy and long-term visions but others need to see the detail and have a day-by-day plan. Either is fine and either will work. This is about engaging with how you work best in order that you achieve the end result.

While writing it down is crucial if you don’t review it regularly then everything is a waste of your time. All too often, planning is seen as an event, not a process. This results in plans that are not fully implemented since, once they are done, they are forgotten about.

If business planning is a priority for you then check out this handy tool that will help support your vision and action plan. You can find it at HERE