The Components of a Plan

It Is Something I Learned…

Sample Flight Plan…From my flight instructor.  “Plan you flight, Fly your Plan.”

Of course, this was in Alaska back in the 80’s and I was hard at work on getting my flying instruction and time in so that I could take my final flight before getting my license. We filed a “Flight Plan” with every flight, at least the exercise of it, even if we were only going to the practice area. When planning for a cross country flight, the Flight Plan included the general direction of each leg of the flight, whatever stops were being made, and how many souls were on board.

This way, if anything happened, searchers would know where we had intended on going, and how many to look for.

A plan on paper does not take into account obstacles along the way – especially a weather front. Nor does it mandate a course of action, it only gives a planned direction of intent. We have all known someone whose plan did not take into account certain obstacles, often with disastrous results. Too often the results are labeled, “Pilot Error.”

I have made many plans. Some are simple, as in what to buy at the grocery store. Others document the “To Do” list for the day, or week, or even month. I’ve had several education plans as I moved through my degrees. My wife keeps a good bill paying plan. In my career, planning is an integral part of life, both in ministry and IT.

I remember the first time we made a long distance drive to Alaska. I was moving my parents to Anchorage in 1977. We had maps drawn out, estimated our stops and fuel requirements, and made some best guesses on what the road would be like in Canada on the Alaska Canadian (AlCan) Highway – a place we had never been to before. 96 hours of driving, 4 days later, and 5,000 hard earned miles – we arrived safe in Anchorage. Not a single flat tire, and not one time did we run out of fuel.

Still, for the most part, every time I go on a trip I make a new plan.

“Don’t get fooled into thinking just because something worked last time it will work next time.” ~Bruce Van Horn

Stages of life require a plan, new trips require a plan, new goals need a plan. While it is true we can dust off a previous plan and update it for the current needs – we must evaluate every step and make adjustments.

What are the components to every plan? The list can be lengthy, and full of great detail. But perhaps the most important component of all?

Every plan needs a backup. A contingency.

On the Y2K project we planned for the situation where one of us might get hit by the proverbial “Mack Truck.” This way, everyone knew how to step in and take over the duties of another.

Backup plans are often created on the fly with whatever resources are at hand, but we are better prepared when we start out with a plan. Good planning knows the struggles that might appear along the way, and it is easier to react to them when we have given them some thought.

For example, let’s say you have a diet plan – and then you get invited to a dinner and everything being offered is off your plan. What do you do?

  • What do you do if you lose your wallet? Or if your computer crashes? Or your identity gets stolen?
  • What do you do if you and your spouse have a disagreement? Or your kids run away during the night?
  • What do you do if your only transportation breaks down?
  • Can you find the back road to get home quickly if the road ahead has an obstacle?
  • Do you have savings to fall back on if something requires an emergency spending of all your accessible cash?

What do you do?

This has been one of my struggles – attempting to determine all the scenarios that might go wrong and how do I plan for them. The answer? You cannot imagine all the challenges, but good planning prepares you for the huge “what if’s” in life.

Yet, the most important aspect of planning is knowing whether the resources are available before taking on new responsibilities. Sufficient funds, time, sustaining interest, labor, or even having a good purpose for your actions.

Jesus said that when you become one of his followers, you are essentially picking up your cross and following him (Luke 14:27). Then he gives some wise words for considering your actions.

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. (Luke 14:28-32 ESV)

How committed are you? How prepared are you? Where’s your plan?

Let me close with some current thoughts about plans.

Yesterday (9/3/14), Vice President Joe Biden challenged ISIS for their dastardly deed of murdering innocent journalist.

“As a nation we are united and when people harm Americans we don’t retreat, we don’t forget. We take care of those who are grieving and when that’s finished, they should know we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice because hell is where they will reside. Hell is where they will reside.” ~VP Joe Biden

Does he speak for our president? Does he speak for our nation? Does he have a plan? The President says he has no Strategy for dealing with ISIS, even though he has been briefed daily for over a year.

It sounds like one has the energy and drive, but not the power to put forth a plan. The other has the ability to put forth a plan, but no energy or drive to handle the issue.

This is typical with every one of us. Our energy and drive often says, “Let’s Do It.” But we have no plan to act…

Let’s get a strategy on how we plan a successful life!


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