“I think a plan is just a list of things that don’t happen.” – Mr. Parker, The Way of the Gun (2000)
It’s good to have a plan. It’s also good to be prepared to deviate from it – or for it to deviate from you. When you think about a plan, think about the difference between cooking and baking.
When you bake, you need to be pretty exact. You can’t just add flour, water, eggs, etc. in any combination you like, adjusting as you go. If you don’t get it exactly right, you won’t end up with a cake – you’ll end up with a brick or a mess. Maybe a messy brick. But definitely not a cake.
Cooking is different – more art than science. When I’m cooking, I start with a basic plan, sure. But I can adjust as I go, add things I feel like, compensate for earlier mistakes. The end result is almost always delicious, even if it often ends up different from what I envisioned in the beginning. Sometimes I mess up a meal to the point where it isn’t good, but far more often I end up with something new and exciting that my family loves.
When you make a plan, think of it like cooking, not like baking. It’s good to have a plan to start – you need to have some vision to begin. But you can adjust, be flexible, roll with punches, add new ideas. When you bake, you can’t do that – if you realize halfway through the baking process that you forgot an ingredient when you put that cake in the oven 15 minutes ago, there’s no coming back. That’s why I don’t bake.
Be prepared to make changes as you need to. Stay flexible. You’re probably in the midst of one or more plans right now – plans for this week or month, maybe 5-year plans, or maybe even plans you’ve made for your life. When was the last time you sat back, evaluated your progress so far, and made a course correction? 5-year plans are great as visions. But 3 years in, you’re hopefully 3 years wiser than you were, and it’s worth it to take that new experience into account and adjust.
It’s more important that the end result is delicious than that it’s what you envisioned when you started.