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Too much planning can actually sabotage your project, creating the fear of putting our work out in the world. In this article we’ll focus on how to overcome this problem by simply reframing the initial plan.

This article is one of those short articles that came to me spontaneously. It’s basically a reminder that we never feel ready to put our work out there, we never feel ready enough to start implementing our dream project.

How much time should you spend planning your project? When do you decide that it’s time to start implementing? When is the time to put it out in the world for a first feedback? What’s the time ratio between planning and implementing? These are all questions that I’ll try to answer in this article.

Perpetual cycle of planning

Have you heard the expression “Work your plan and plan your work?” or, “A good plan is 50% of the job done”.

Planning … It’s all about setting up goals. You have a macro goal and you break it into micro-goals which again, you break them into bite-size goals. You prioritize and establish tasks. And of course, put them all on a time schedule (days – weeks – months – even years).

You draft notes and ideas, you do a whiteboard, you sketch something, you watch a video, take an online course in connection to the field, learn some new skills, reorganize notes and tasks. And then, you refine the initial idea, and research even more, etc. You may even have a written business plan.

Planning is very important for gaining clarity, for exploring ideas, for creating the concept. Planning makes you build a system, makes you cement the foundation for your idea.

Yeap! You work your plan very well.

But when will you start implementing it? When is the right time?

The way I see it. Planning does not necessarily mean real action! I believe that too much planning comes with negative and undesirable effects that sabotage the creation process.

You are basically sabotaging yourself out of fear to put your work out there!

Fear? of what? fear of failing, fear of negative feedback, fear of competition even fear of success. And this fear-based thinking is associated with low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and procrastination.

loop schematic in 4 points illustrating the illusion of planning a project

So let me share a glimpse of the risks associated with too much planning. All these factors may take you looping … continuing to plan it indefinitely, without ever making it available to the public.

  1. It burns you before implementing it because you want to have a lot of things to be done.
  2. It kills your spontaneity because you become fixated on the initial idea.
  3. It makes you doubt yourself because what you have just doesn’t look good enough anymore, it’s somehow outdated.
  4. It makes you stay under the illusion of “perfection” because you believe you need to create and publish high-quality work so it takes time to plan it.
  5. It diminishes your momentum and your passion since you look at your project as a job thing designed to make you some money.
  6. It keeps you stuck under the impression that you may have some progress, but in fact, that progress isn’t real action after all.
  7. It makes you keep procrastinating the implementation more and more, you will then postpone decisions or actions.
  8.  Furthermore, your dear project will be associated with just increased stress and pressure.

Soothe your plan. Find Balance.

A fair question would be … “But if I’m not planning well, how would I know that I’m on the right path? What if my project is not going to be good enough? I won’t be having a second chance!”

I’m not suggesting that you stop planning or that planning is not important at all. This is not a binary process, Plan or Don’t-Plan! I’m saying … Find Balance!

The thing is, our minds are designed for so-called safeties, for not risking what we already have, for not getting into a failure. Our minds have an inclination towards negativity because it’s based on the “survival” mode of thinking, on the “stay safe, stay with the familiar”.

The solution is then … soothe the plan by letting go of worries and bad feelings, just try things out, be out there and see where it goes!

schematic in 5 stages illustrating the transition between planing and implementation

Reflect on your current status, reflect on what you have so far, on how much energy and time you’ve put. What’s the real outcome? Ask yourself some honest questions and try to understand why and how it takes to plan so much.

  1. Are you getting any feedback from the outside?
  2. Are you having some interaction?
  3. Are you making some buzz, networking, customers out of it?
  4. Do you still have the energy and motivation to keep on planning?
  5. How far are you from implementing your plan?

If the answer is No or you’re just tired, then it’s time to reframe the picture. It’s about time to do more action and less planning.

I’m not saying go back to square-one and reinvent the wheel or, go in a totally different direction.

I’m saying … Have the courage to put your thing out in the world for people to see, feel, interact and give you feedback. And along the way, you tweak what you have to tweak, adjust what needs to be adjusted.

Reschedule your plan so that you’re forced to jump into action. Just take your plan to the level of activity and work from there.

In conclusion

Remember that a big and important part of creating a personal project (product) is the journey towards your goals. You started your own project because it has a meaning to you and because it resonates with you, it’s your personal fingerprint out in the world.

So don’t sabotage your own momentum, don’t let your idea be stagnated under a good plan! Don’t transform your idea into perfect time management! Find your balance between planning and action, between strategizing and making. This is an effective way to work.

Allow the interaction to happen, allow for your project to take shape. Go for micro-actions while planning for the large-scale. Be curious and excited about what could happen.

If you put your work out there, it will automatically become a new experience and that experience will change your attitude and your energy.

Enjoy the journey and learn along the way!

The attitude of “learning while doing it” is the most powerful attitude since it brings a positive mindset. With this mindset, you’ll never feel stuck and you’ll be able to take your potential to the max.

So what is holding you, what is holding us in not taking that initial action?

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover – Mark Twain (writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, lecturer).

Cristina Zoica Dumitru

I teach digital art courses online and on-location. My mission is to challenge students to reach their maximum potential for creativity and authenticity.

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