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Plans are Important, But Avoid The Planning Pitfall

My name is Coach Tony, and I am a believer in the power of project management.

In my twenty years as a professional project manager, I have witnessed project success drive business results. I have also proven that project management can change lives and help achieve personal transformation.

Now, I use project management principles as a coach to help clients achieve their life, health and professional goals.

In PM Believer, I share practical project management tips and techniques that you can use to help you achieve your own personal goals and live your best life.

Are you ready to become a PM Believer too?


Before we jump into today's post, I offer you this "dad joke" as a light "amuse-bouche" to entertain your mind before we get serious. Like any other amuse-bouche, you may hate it, but it is worth every penny you paid for it, right?

Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd break into a distillery. Daffy turns to Elmer and says, "is this whiskey?" Elmer quickly responded, "yeah, but not as whiskey as wobbing a bank."

Plans are Important, But Avoid The Planning Pitfall

The first large corporate technology project I was affiliated with involved creating new software for operating point-of-sale (cash register) systems in hundreds of retail stores. Like many corporate projects in that era, we had a kick-off meeting with all of the stakeholders across the company and then immediately moved into a detailed planning phase of the project. We spent the next four months creating a nearly hundred-page requirements document and a detailed project plan for the two-year effort.

What value did customers, who needed improved software, get from the first four months of this project?

The Planning Pitfall

Plans are an essential tool if you want to accomplish something meaningful. As my readers know, creating a plan that works for you is one of my six steps to achieving your goals. Despite what some more hardcore Agile practitioners believe, you can’t simply skip planning and expect to achieve success.

Unfortunately, the planning process can come with a pitfall. Planning isn’t doing.

Often, project teams and individuals pursuing a goal will spend a ton of time creating a plan. They analyze every angle and attempt to build the perfect plan before starting their work. They may even pay money to have experts help with this plan.

When they reach the end of the planning process, what progress have they made with their goal? They just have an idea on paper based on assumptions. That is not the same as making progress. At its worst, this pitfall can lead to PLANcrastination.

Want to avoid the planning pitfall? Remember that doing is planning.

I will share two examples of how to upgrade your planning process to avoid the planning pitfall.

Doing is Planning: Weight Loss

As I explain in my book, Operation Melt: How I Used Life-Changing Project Management to Lose Over 100 Pounds in Under a Year, weight loss requires planning. At the beginning of your journey, you must determine your safe rate of loss and target weight; both require work with your doctor. Then you need to figure out how you will get there, your target milestones and your planned behavior changes.

Creating a solid weight-loss plan will likely require a few weeks of work. But this doesn’t need to be the exclusive focus of your weight loss project during these weeks.

While creating your plan, you can take steps to progress toward your goal. I like to call these quick-start actions.

You can begin your personal fitness audit by starting to track your consumption and exercise. This important step will influence your plan and make it much better.

Assuming you are healthy enough, you can also start working more movement and exercise into your life. This will have an immediate impact on your goal.

Doing is Planning: Starting a Business

When launching a business, you need a business plan, right? Yes, it would be best to eventually have a business plan, but that doesn’t mean it is always the first step.

As many of you know, in 2020, I achieved my first life coach certification (see Don’t Follow In My Footsteps), with three additional certifications following quickly. Then I decided to launch a life, goals and health coaching business. I took on my first client and several more clients soon thereafter.

The lessons I learned from doing the business for a while were things I couldn’t have possibly known at the beginning. Had I spent a ton of upfront time creating a perfect business plan, I would have hit the planning pitfall in three ways:

  1. I wouldn’t have helped the clients I helped during that time
  2. I wouldn’t have made any money in my business
  3. My plan wouldn’t have been as good because I knew less

By jumping into the work for a while, I was able to add value and build knowledge. The business plan that evolved after doing the work was much more valuable than anything I could have created at the outset.

Are you ready to be a PM Believer?

Have you committed to a goal and are ready to start creating your plan for success? Make sure to avoid the planning pitfall by remembering that doing is planning.

Identify some quick-start actions and start doing the work while you are planning. If you don’t, you will lose time and produce a lower-quality plan. You might even want to start with a small-scale plan and create a new version once you have learned more.

Need a little help identifying your quick start actions and avoiding the planning pitfall? That’s what I do, and I would be honored to be your partner. 

Click Here to learn more about my Operation Melt coaching services.

Meet Coach Tony

My name is Coach Tony, and I am a coach, author and project manager on a mission. I am working to build a world where no goal ever dies of loneliness.

I almost allowed one of my biggest life goals to die without ever being attempted for forty years. My goal almost died, not of failure but of loneliness. But, I took a risk and leveraged a simple, logical process that helped me wildly exceed my goal. 

I transformed my life, and you can do the same with the help of Operation Melt. 

Operation Melt provides engaging, practical content and hands-on coaching to inspire, motivate and equip project managers and other left-brained high-achievers to pursue and accomplish their biggest goals. 

Breathe new life into your goals

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Published inPM Believer