The futility of planning

Published on Jul 28, 2022 by Matt Bud, The FENG
Being Out of Work Networking

Over the past few months I have completed several projects on or for my sailboat.

My father was a plumbing and general contractor. Having worked for him from the time I was 13 until I graduated from college, I am pretty handy with tools. I also had a lot of very old cars, and not being independently wealthy at the time, I learned how to fix them myself.

I find that now the scarce commodity in my life is time. As a result, many of the projects I decide to do have long planning cycles. Sometimes I draw myself sketches of what I want to do. Nothing too elaborate you understand, but enough so that I have a pretty good sense of the materials I need and the likely time to get the work done. (After all, it IS summertime, and I DO have to go sailing as well. While I don’t pray for rainy or windy days, I do take advantage of them to do these projects.)

The problem is that even if I have put my ideas down on paper, I still spend an inordinate amount of time THINKING about the project or projects. Time that I could quite honestly spend thinking about other things. The point of all of this discussion is that at the end of the day, things don’t usually work out EXACTLY as I planned them. As I actually begin working on the project, I have to continually amend my thinking to accommodate the reality I see in front of very own eyes. In the context of “fish or cut bait,” at some point you have to stop planning and start doing.

I would be the last person to suggest to you that you don’t need to do ANY planning about your career. If you allow your career to be a “happening” that’s exactly what it will be. If you want to “PLAN” how you are going to network with others and never get around to the actual doing, you will be in much the same fix. Planning is all very well, but the doing is what gets the job done.

We all have our own visualizations of what we are going to do if and when we retire. Perhaps this is actually a discussion for another time. That said, if you are planning to do anything, you ought to try some “doing” first.

Extremely detailed plans are all very well for many types of projects. However, as they say, man plans and God laughs.

My suggested approach to planning is to come up with details for the early days and more and more generalized ideas for the longer term, with a lot of trial and error and testing of even near term plans before full roll outs.

If you have used our Member Directory Search feature, created a few custom directories and selected a few dozen folks to contact, that’s great. But, don’t try to find EVERYONE in The FENG who fits your bill of particulars BEFORE you start your networking campaign. With 35,000+ members, you are going to be a long time searching and organizing before you make even one phone call. Better to take a “successive approximation” approach to your goal of creating an inner circle of friends.

Planning only APPEARS to be futile. While your EXACT process and solution is very unlikely to happen, without thinking through how you are going to go about reaching your goal, it will never happen.

Now THAT would be an apt definition of futility.

Regards, Matt