Plan your work, and work your plan

10-30-2009 1:05 PM

It's planning and budgeting time around the Mary Kay office right now.  That means we're all thinking about our most important initiatives for 2010, our revenue forecasts for all of our markets around the world, and what we think we'll be spending to accomplish our goals.  It's a process that goes on for a few months each year.  We each begin at the individual department level, but eventually all have to come together to make sure that our goals are in sync overall and that our company-wide budget is reasonable.  No one particularly enjoys the process, but everyone understands how important it is to plan.

As I was thinking about this, I was reminded about two things:  (1) Mary Kay Ash always said that one should "plan your work, and work your plan", and (2) that many young women these days don't have a plan for their life, but wish they did (as we learned from our 2009 What Women Want research study). It occurred to me that as individuals, we don't often take the time to plan for our year with the careful thought and discipline that we put into the planning process for our jobs.  I wonder what would happen if we did? What if we all practiced "plan your life, and live your plan"?

I've decided that I'm going to give it a try and see what happens.  Instead of making the usual New Year's resolutions, which quickly fall by the wayside, I'm actually going to sit down with my husband this year and craft a plan for 2010 for our personal life.  I'd like the plan to include what we want to accomplish next year, collectively and individually.  What do we expect our income to be? How much will our living expenses be, and how much discretionary spending should we plan based on what we want to do?   I'd like to set a goal for a certain number of hours of volunteer time, and a financial plan for our charitable giving.  This would really be a big step for us, as we typically take life one day or one week, or one month at a time, as most people do.  We are blessed at this point in our lives, in not having to live from paycheck to paycheck, but the idea of actually planning a budget and sticking to it is kind of exciting for me. Just like we do at the office, we can sit down and review our progress each quarter, see where we've stayed on track and where we can improve.  And it will be fun to look back at the end of the year and see how many of our goals we actually met. I can imagine that having this plan would make all the daily decisions we face that much easier, because we would have a "filter" of sorts to weigh the decision against.  If we do "X", is it consistent with the goals we set?  If not, are we willing to change our goals?

Of course I know that things will come up along the way that will get us sidetracked, they always do -- those little, or sometimes BIG, things that are out of our control and come up at the most inopportune times.  But it would seem that, other than those times, the peace of mind in knowing where we were going and how we wanted to get there would bring a tremendous sense of freedom and independence, leaving far fewer things to clutter our minds each and every day.

If you've been disciplined about planning your personal life this way, I'd love to hear about it.  How did it work for you?  What did it feel like?