How to Adjust Your Predictions and Plans (Productive Flourishing Pulse #467)
Or: how not to get stuck on Groundhog Day repeat
It's Maghan in for Charlie this week as he and Angela prepare for next week's Level Up Retreat in the Dominican Republic.
As we start this second month of the year, you might feel like Phil Connors, Bill Murray's character in the 1993 movie Groundhog Day: stuck in time, as if January got put on never-ending repeat.
But today, I want to focus on what we can learn from Punxsutawney Phil (or for my Canadian friends: Wiarton Willie, or one of the host of other weather predicting animals).
Yes, I’m asking you to explore what you might learn from a rodent that predicts if we'll see an early spring or six more long weeks of winter. Stick with me.
The plans we made in January were based on our predictions for the year ahead. These predictions were based on the information we had at the time — what the experiences of our past have taught us, what current conditions looked like, and what we hope for the future.
A month later, those conditions might look a little different. So, like our groundhog friend, it may be time to come out of whatever burrow we've been hiding in, assess the landscape as it is now, and adjust those plans accordingly.
Knowing what you know now (and what you didn't know at the start of the year), how would you adjust your plans going forward?
Notice I didn't ask what you would have done differently. While that line of questioning can be useful (usually with more space and time between now and then), it can also get you caught up in a cycle of rumination. You can't change the past by trying to relive it.
You don't have to keep pushing through for the sake of pushing through. Circumstances have changed, and so can your plan.
Assess and Adjust
You don't have to go into February (or the rest of the year) feeling stuck living your life on repeat — Bill Murray's character eventually makes it to February 3, after all. You've acquired new information and collected new data points. Use those not to beat yourself up, but to move yourself forward.
Assessment is a necessary step on the path to recognizing your full potential. It’s the part of the process where you evaluate what you've been doing. There are two questions to ask at this stage: 1) Am I doing the things that are consistent with my goals? and 2) Are those actions actually moving me toward reaching those goals?
Reviewing last month’s plan with today’s information will reveal the (wrong or right) assumptions used to make that original plan, so you can adjust as necessary.
Like reviewing your finances, reviewing your plan can help you see where you might be carrying debt. Consider how much project debt you’ve already accrued and if you want to take on more.
Everything you do displaces something you could have done. You can’t run from that truth, but you can use it to start finishing your best work. How is your original plan helping or hindering you in getting to what matters?
Another hard truth: If you're planning effectively, you'll always be changing your plans. As Charlie wrote in Start Finishing: “Remember: when reality doesn’t fit your plans, don’t try to change reality — change your plans.”
You can do this exercise every month, but it’s particularly helpful in February. It may not feel like spring just yet, but it’s coming. And according to Punxsutawney Phil, who did not see his shadow this morning, it will be an early one!
Other News & Features
Reads and Seeds
I’ve been enjoying these quick takes from Charlie each week, so I decided to have a go at it.
I love how Dr. David Rock uses the stage metaphor in his book Your Brain at Work.1 During the “intermission” between Act I and Act II of the book, we learn about the “stage director,” or our self-awareness and regulation. “The director can watch the show that is your mental life, and therefore your life, make decisions about how your brain will respond, and even sometimes alter the script… Without a director, you are a mere automation driven by greed, fear, or habit.”
“People will find you in the right timing because you do the consistent seeding.” —Pam Slim during week 1 of her Tiny Marketing Actions course
Each morning, I read an excerpt from John Jantsch’s The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur2 as part of my daily practice. His challenge question from this past Wednesday was a doozy: “Who will be better off 10 years from now because you decided to do what you do?”
“The essential tools in any worthwhile endeavor are incredibly simple. And very difficult to master. The task of any artist is not to learn many, many techniques but to learn the most simple technique perfectly. In doing so, Stanislavsky told us, the difficult will become easy and the easy habitual so that the habitual may become beautiful.” —David Mamet, On Directing Film3 (shared during this morning's London Writer's Hour)
“I will always say what's effective for you is a valid solution to the problem.” —Charlie, during our Pro member Quarterly Planning session last week
“What if the purpose of the activity is not what you get from completing it but what it provides in the process of doing it? You don’t have to read an entire book before taking action on a concept within it.” —Me, journal entry
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