“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
– Benjamin Franklin
You’ve most likely heard this a million times. “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”.
That’s not just a quote by an American founding father, it is a FACT.
Why does it matter if I plan or not?
Look at it this way, would you decide to make a cake without a plan? Would you just start making a cake? I guess if you’ve made a cake a hundred times before you can do it on autopilot. You will know you have flour, sugar, eggs, butter. You will know that you need caster sugar and self-raising flour. You will also know you need medium-sized chicken eggs and not an ostrich egg. These are all things you already know from experience. If you want to make a different type of cake, you know you have to change this or change that because you already have the basics. This is called inherited learning. People who speak more than one language find it easier to learn a third, fourth etc because they understand the concept of how to structure a sentence and how languages work. They apply what they know to what they are doing now.
Let’s look at you doing something you’ve never done before. Would you do it the same way? If it involves cooking, you could take some of the learning from your cake baking experience and apply it to your new task. Can you do the same if you were to say, be looking to write a blog post? In essence, you can take some of what you already know. Your life skills. The fact that you’ve (hopefully) read lots of blog posts already on your road to writing your very first entry in your brand new blog. So you know what is a good blog post. You don’t? I bet you do. A good blog post is the one you remember. The one you left a comment on. The one that sent you scrabbling for your notebook to take notes. The one that just popped into your head right now. The blog post that made you go ‘ah, so that is how you do it’ or ‘ah, that is why that happened’ or ‘Really? It took you that long?’ – you get the gist.
I’m not going to tell you how to write a good blog post, that will come later. What I am going to tell you is to take this acronym and write it down. Remember it. Use it. Ready?
S. T. A. R.
Can you remember that?
S. T. A. R.
Oh, you want me to give you the meaning of the acronym S. T. A. R.
In any situation when you are unsure, you ‘think’ you are wrong, you ‘know’ something isn’t right… You should S. T. A. R.
S. T. A. R.
Give yourself time to think. Stop what you are doing. Literally, stop.
Think about what you need to do next. Look at your plan, look at your recipe. Is the plan/recipe right? Why is it right? Why is it wrong? Make a decision on what you need to do next.
Take action on what you decided to do. Remember, you have already thought about it. You stopped, you thought about it. Now take action. Do it.
You’ve now stopped. You thought about what you needed to do next. You acted upon your decision. You did it. Now what? Was it the right decision? Would you do it the same way? Would you do the same thing again? What would you change? This is not the time to start second-guessing, you’ve already thought about what you were going to do and made a decision. This is where the learning comes in. this is where you get it into your muscle memory
There you go.
You might think that this is totally unnecessary and is way too much work, over the top, waffle, fluff etc. Initially, you may find it tedious. You may ask the question “with all this stopping, thinking, acting and reviewing going on when do I actually have time to get on with the stuff I want to do?”. All you are doing is tricking your brain into having memories. Instead of doing one task a hundred times (like baking a cake) and being able to do it without thinking, blindfolded, on autopilot, you do something ‘right first time’. It is right because you know it is right. It is right when you thought about it. If in the future, you realise what you did you could do faster, better, leaner, smoother – don’t go back and change it (unless it is a safety issue) – leave it to look at and smile, once you are an expert. You will be. Honestly, if it is that bad, hide it. Don’t delete it or change it. Hide it. Rewrite it. Redo it. But keep it to learn from it. Learn why you took that decision at that time and why you will do something differently.
Here endeth the lesson.
- Plan. Write a recipe. Make sure you have all your ingredients BEFORE you start.
- S. T. A. R. Stop, Think, Act, Review
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