That uncle …

Everyone has that uncle who had his fair share of achievements in life and is now living a retired life. But his future plans at the age of 70 still make sense to ears. You sit with him for few minutes and he will quickly chalk out a perfect looking grand business plan. Like ..

.. We shall construct a big plaza on mall road (100 stories high to be exact) which will be built by acquiring land from a friend on the promise of quick payment once project starts rolling. Then we shall design and sell shops and offices in that plaza with advance cash from customers. Since the location is a prime location, all shops and offices will be sold out quickly. Then we shall build that plaza with the collected money and we shall also payoff the land owner. The top floor will not be sold and we shall keep it for our offices. And of course, with the newly earned money, we shall buy a helicopter which will use the helipad built on the roof of top floor.

Planning the future is broad level thinking and makes us feel good. It is important because unless we have a plan and we have a target to achieve we cannot go any where. But it is also addictive because sometimes the difference in do-able planning and day-dreaming is not much.

On the other hand detail level thinking is about getting things done; to move your grand project one step further into success. Detail level thinking, and work, involves small steps to be planned and taken. Every project worth doing requires lots of small steps. Many times, these small steps take lots of time; especially when new learning is involved; like learning some jquery to create that special effect in the website requested by you new client. Unfortunately planning and doing these small steps is not as sexy as day dreaming the big picture.

The reason is that small steps don’t really give us a sense of achievement and force us to leave our comfort zone and do something. So we keep postponing as long as we can and here enters in our life what is commonly known as ‘procrastination’. By procrastinating we waste much more time than was needed to complete those small steps which would have push our project in the right direction and would have give us real sense of achievement; and pleasure.

When we have procrastinated long enough, we start questioning the worthiness of our project-in-hand. It is already delayed so is it worth while to spend more time on it and complete? Will it be any good at all? Isn’t it time to plan a brand new project which is do-able? Let us day dream.

In June, 2005 one of my friends announced that 2007 will be the year of freedom for him. He was doing an office job and was sick and tired of his job due to his bad boss and long working hours. I asked why not today, instead of 2007. His reply was that he wanted to make a good foolproof plan and he was confident enough to plan and achieve by 2007. Fast forward 11 years, it is now 2016 and that gentleman is still doing the same job with the same company and under the same boss.

There was a time when we took pleasure in doing small things without big planning and that was when we were kids and we were addicted to learning by ‘doing’ which was called ‘playing’ at that time. For most people that time has long gone. It now takes strict personal discipline to do new learning and to take small steps for success.

My own ‘cure’ is that once I have made the big plan and wrote it somewhere, I try to switch off my brain from thinking for few hours and start doing things, the small steps, as a robot. In 1995, I completed my first big project in six months and the secret was that I forced myself to work two hours, just two hours, every day; without worrying about achievement or consequences. Although it looks simple but working two hours daily a very hard discipline to adhere to but the final reward was worth the effort.

Writing a todo list for broad level and detail level plans, even if we do not follow it strictly, plays an important role in helping us start doing detail level work. With our broad level planning frozen in writing, we literally delegate the thinking work to our todo list and stop worrying about forgetting any thing important and suddenly we have energy to do the detail level work.

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