Future Planning Can Do More Harm Than Good

Future-Thinking

Thinking too much about the future and not enough about the present reduces your chances of success.

I was sitting on my mat at the yoga studio stretched forward over my knees holding a deep pose.

If you don’t focus enough on the NOW and take the actions your business needs to take NOW, you’ll get to that place you’ve been thinking about in the future.

My teacher often shares ideas and thoughts on life throughout the class. One of them really caught my attention last night and I wanted to share it with you.

She said, “We focus too much on the future, and not enough on the present. We worry too much about things that haven’t happened yet, and don’t spend enough time thinking about and being in the moment we are in.”

I do my best to block out thoughts about business when I’m at my yoga class. Though I admit, it’s hard for me. I’ve been running businesses and consulting for over 14 years. I’m always thinking about business in one form or another.

This time was no different.

My teacher’s words made complete sense from a personal perspective and business perspective.

Too many consultants and business owners spending time creating elaborate plans for their business.

They day dream about how grand things will be in the future.

They put off doing things they might enjoy now until later, because ‘later’ will be a better time.

Planning for the future is important.

You want and need to have goals. And at the same time you must avoid spending too much time concentrating on the future.

If you don’t focus enough on the NOW and take the actions your business needs to take NOW, you’ll get to that place you’ve been thinking about in the future.

The most successful consultants and business owners I know all take a similar approach.

They know exactly what they are working towards. They can tell you with great clarity where they are headed. They don’t spend their time perfecting their plan for the future. They spend their time taking action, putting all excuses to the side, and doing everything they can to make the most of their NOW.

That’s how they pick up steam. How they get into a flow that propels their business forward fast. And how they get to see and enjoy the results that come with it.

Do you ever find yourself thinking too much about the future, and not enough on the NOW?

  • Andy Williams

    I think this is an interesting point but I would also ask what about those organisations that fail because they spend too little time working ‘on’ the organisation and rather too much working ‘in’ the organisation. Isn’t it a balance – as you put it ‘They know exactly what they are working towards. They can tell you with
    great clarity where they are headed. They don’t spend their time
    perfecting their plan for the future.’ So the balance is having a vision and goal that is well defined and achievable and then pushing forward to realise that vision.

    • Andy – good comment. Everyone can and should think about the future and plan their direction – the problem is when people think too much about the future and it stops them from enjoying NOW and making progress NOW to get them to where they want to go.

  • Fred Kakooza

    Great pointers, Michael. There is an additional risk of seeing more of what risks a plan faces and other ways of how it cannot work and less of how to get started on an action plan, simply because one is afraid of messing up that rosy picture they have painted of the future.

  • Andreas Dittrich

    Clearly, it’s important to have goals and outline the path how to get there. However, when embarking on this path it is crucial to fully concentrate on each and every step NOW, since this is the only chance to do things right and make meaningful progress. It’s the same when climbing a mountain: you select the summit and the way up there but you concentrate fully on the path in order to get up steadily and safely. “Dedicate more attention to your actions than to the desired results. ….The results will come on their own” (Eckhardt Tolle: “The power of now!”)

  • Caroline Chema

    I totally agree with you Mike. When we spend too much time and energy in planning, we become obsessed with our plans and so reluctant to accept changes. This may somewhat result in missed opportunities or getting our results at a very expensive price.