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  • Writer's pictureKristen Theisen

The Downside of Strict Planning

Ah, the well-crafted plan—a beacon of hope in a chaotic world. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? Armed with color-coded calendars, detailed to-do lists, and a steely resolve, we set forth to conquer life’s challenges. But what if I told you that sometimes, sticking to that plan like chewing gum on a shoe might not be the wisest course of action? Let’s explore the treacherous path of strict planning…

Detour sign

1. The Paralysis Predicament

Imagine our protagonist, Bob, meticulously planning his day. He’s got it all figured out: wake up at 6:00 AM, jog for precisely 30 minutes, have a protein shake (with exactly 17 almonds), and then tackle his work tasks. But oh no! The universe throws a curveball—his alarm clock malfunctions, and he oversleeps. Panic sets in. Bob’s plan is crumbling faster than a stale cookie.

Bob stands there, staring at the broken alarm clock, paralyzed by indecision. Should he skip the jog? What about the almonds? This is the downside of strict planning... His whole day is thrown off! Meanwhile, the sun rises, mocking him as each minute goes by.

The lesson here? Sometimes, flexibility is the secret sauce. Bob could’ve improvised—a brisk walk, a handful of walnuts—and still felt accomplished, ready to take on the day. Instead, he’s stuck in a time warp, contemplating the meaning of life while his oatmeal congeals.

Don’t be like Bob. The next time life throws you a curveball, just step aside and keep going.

2. Tunnel Vision Trouble

Now let’s meet Malik, the small business owner. His plan? A meticulously timed marketing campaign to boost year-end sales. He’s got it all figured out: direct mail, social media blitzes, and customer appreciation events. But one day, the vice president of a regional corporation calls. They want to fund a new project—an unexpected opportunity. Malik hesitates. His plan doesn’t account for “spontaneous creativity.” He declines, missing out on game-changing money.

Opportunity direction signs

Malik’s tunnel vision blinds him to opportunities beyond his spreadsheet cells. He could’ve engaged the VP in dialogue. A simple phone call—a genuine conversation—could’ve revealed shared values and aligned goals. Malik might’ve adjusted his plan, incorporated the new initiative, and danced a jig of gratitude.

By being so narrowly focused on adhering to his plan, Malik missed his chance to turn a phone call into a partnership. We can learn from Malik’s misstep and remember to look up from our plan every now and then, to see the possibilities that could be right in front of us.

3. The “Plan-failure” Syndrome

Meet Alex, the communications director at a nonprofit. Armed with a meticulously crafted communications plan, they face a sudden crisis—the donor database crashes. Alex’s plan is unraveling faster than a poorly knitted scarf. They stand there, staring at the error message. So much for the urgent fundraising email scheduled for noon. Now the whole campaign will be delayed, and they won’t meet important goals. Alex feels like a failure and just wants to go home.

Directional signs for React and Adapt

Alex gives in to “plan-failure” syndrome, a rare condition characterized by excessive spreadsheet sighs and existential dread. It's yet another downside of strict planning. The remedy? Acknowledge that flexibility is not defeat—it’s resilience.

Alex could’ve rallied their team, revised the plan, and emerged stronger. Fueled by purpose and camaraderie, the team could have brainstormed alternative strategies, like using social media to reach donors and convey the urgent fundraising need.

Communication isn’t just about words; it’s about transparency, empathy, and trust-building. Alex missed an opportunity to turn crisis into connection, but let's not do the same.


To sum it up, plans are essential, but think of them like GPS directions—they offer guidance, though we have to be ready for detours.

Sunrise from the front seat of a car

Let's stay open to change, laugh at life’s curveballs, and keep an eye out for interesting new paths. 🌟

Disclaimer: No spreadsheets were harmed in the making of this blog post. 😄


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