I live in Los Angeles, where everything you want to do is a destination. Because you get where you want to go in a car, it is important to map where you are headed. What freeway(s) to what exit? Which street to turn up?.
There is a joy in that. I know where I will end up and if the traffic gods are with me, about how long it will take. If I’ve been clever, I even know where to park.
In London, where I am now, things are often more serendipitous. Especially if I am walking and since I don’t do as much of that as I would like in Los Angeles (and because London really is very small), I tend to walk most of the time. And while I often have a destination in mind, I know the city well enough that I don’t preplan and there are many times when I don’t actually get there. I look down a street and think, “Ummm….that looks interesting” and head off in a completely different direction. And I love the discovery that often happens in this way,
My work, I find, is best when I marry the two ways. Pick a goal and map out how I want to get there, but leave myself open to wander down streets not pre-selected. Right now, I’m in the middle of updating a workshop I’ve done often in the past five years. Instead of updating frame by frame, I put it all away and first wrote an outline of what I want to accomplish. I then compared it to the original and was pleased to see how similar and yet different the two were. There were some new topics, and one or two old ones that did not appear, but the main changes were in the sequence. And as I worked on the slides, I was again reminded how much planning really does allow you to be free AND to get where you want to go.
What are the take-aways? Planning assures that you will get where you want to go. No planning can give you new insights and visions. Knowing the landscape allows you to marry the two and get the best of all possible worlds. This is why I push my clients to have a written plan and to map out each step of the way. Until they’ve done something often enough, I encourage them to consider all actions in depth—identifying what they want to accomplish at that meeting or in that event and what—specifically—they need to plan for in order to get there. Once they’ve done this many many times (and yes, that is more than once), they may not have to be so granular.
The biggest take-away is that the more you consider where you are going and how you want to get there, the more you can see different routes and consider which is the one that suits you best for this occasion. Do you want the scenic route, or are you in a hurry? Do you want to see new things or does the familiar feel better today? Is this a time to try something completely different or should you stick to the tried-and-true? Only by considering what you need can you chose wisely and end up with the take-away you want.
Janet Levine works with nonprofits helping them to map their success. Learn more at http://www.janetlevineconsulting.com. While there, sign up for the free newsletter and connect with Janet for your free 30 minute consultation.