As the market economy draws our thinking, planning has become rather unfashionable. This should not be restricted to the economic process. Planning is vital in our daily life too. As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. 

People have dreams. Aspirations are common. But, a few succeed and many fail. Quite often introspection is missing. One tends to search for alibis rather than explore as to where they went wrong.

Studies reveal that there could be many reasons why some fail to realise their dreams. One of them is the disproportionate ratio between one's capacity to perform and the goals set. 

Competition makes our effort inferior before others. In a competitive world, success is determined not just by our effort but how others have fared.  To put it the other way, for instance, in road accidents it is not how safe you are at the wheel but how competent the one who is coming from the opposite side is.

Many such intervening variables could impact success rates. Many of them might even be out of our control. But, the ubiquitously found reason is a lack of action and even if there is action, it is not matched by proper planning. Remember, a goal without a plan is just a wish. A plan also prepares one for the future tasks.

In fact, most of us are what we are today only because of the planning by our parents and elders. Warren Buffett has rightly observed, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

Let me recollect my own life experience. My brother got a job immediately after he completed his Intermediate. It was a supervisor’s job in Coal Chemical Complex near Mancherial in Adilabad district. In fact, many post graduates had also applied for it. 

But due to an agitation by locals for the son of the soil policy, my brother could get it. My parents suffered tremendous pressure. Everyone else was advising us to accept the job.

But, ultimately, my father decided against my brother taking up the job. He desired to see my brother as an engineer. Some of my brothers’ classmates who are in fact more intelligent are now working in the same company with only modest upward mobility. 

But, my brother is a software engineer in the United States. A goal is essential. But a plan will deliver it. Remember, if you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up at some wanton place.

Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.

Many children start writing examination without even reading the question paper properly. Many attempt a work without pondering over it for even a second. Spontaneity is good. But it need not always be rewarding. 

Opportunities rarely come. But when they come, grab them with both hands. But, plan for things. Planned efforts require perseverance. Abraham Lincoln said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

But, there is a word of caution. I have seen many engrossed in planning endlessly. They are always busy. But they hardly, if ever, deliver anything. 

Thomas A Edison has an advice to offer for those who suffer from planning mania and action phobia. He said, “Being busy does not always mean real work. 

The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends, there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.”

To make it simple, planning is the act or process of making a plan to achieve or do something. Experts on planning decoded this in many ways. 

The basic steps of planning should be to identify the goals or objectives to be achieved; formulate strategies to achieve them and arrange or create the means required; implement, direct, and monitor all steps in their proper sequence.

But, planning has its own limits. Planning cannot achieve anything beyond our capacity. Thus, a proper assessment of our strengths and weaknesses is a prerequisite to effective planning. 

There can be many a slip between the cup and the lip. Factors that are beyond our control can derail planning. But, all this need not deter us from planning in life and planning for life. Planning optimises our capacity. It unravels our full potential.