A well-defined plan properly executed is your meal ticket to success. You significantly increase the odds of success in any endeavor if you know who you are, what you want, where you are going, how you will get there, and what you will do once you arrive.

What makes it possible for a casino to turn a profit? Do the odds favor the house or the gambler?

Even avid gamblers recognize that the odds always favor the house. Most of the people pulling levers, shooting dice, and playing cards lose most of the time. It’s a safe bet that, in the view of casino managers, you are going to leave some of your earnings in their hands when you leave.

It may be something of an exaggeration, but you could say that, when you walk into any casino, you sport a big “L” for LOSER on your forehead. Now matter how sexy it appears, a casino is a competitively hostile environment as the odds always favor the house. This ensures that they win the majority of the time, and you lose.

The same can be said for your life. Try to achieve anything without a well-defined plan that you are committed to achieve, and you go in with a big “L” on your forehead. The competitive odds are in favor of the prepared, the focused, and the committed; they will out perform, out hustle, and out play you.

Your life will not go according to plan if you do not have a plan. You may lose at a given time because you're not tall enough, fast enough, or young enough. But do not allow yourself to lose because you were not fully prepared. Lack of preparation and planning screams amateur and results in nothing more than mediocrity.

Planning without action is unproductive; action without planning can be counterproductive. Planning without action is like having a multiple personality disorder. You want, talk and long about having, being or doing something, yet, you do nothing about it.

The opposite is also true, as the habit of action without planning carries a high degree of risk and decreased probably of success. Living this way is like playing poker without looking at your hand. You may get an occasional win but you’re still a complete knucklehead.

Planning is an art that requires practice and preparation to do it well. Yet, for many of us the experience of planning still ranks somewhere between having a tooth pulled and changing a diaper. Effective planning ensures a greater sense of security in yourself and the actions necessary for success.

Far too many people and organizations are unprepared, undisciplined, and unfocused. And because they disrespect planning and lack preparation, discipline, and focus, they will repeat yesterday’s mediocre performance today, tomorrow and the next day. This self-imposed purgatory must be stopped, as the consequences of poor planning are utterly ruthless.

Why not create history rather than repeat it? Why not commit to having the best year of your life? Why not create a plan that allows you to experience exceptional growth? Why not get serious about your life and career? Why not tilt the odds in your favor for a change? This is all possible through the discipline of planning.

The accommodation of success is preceded by long negotiation made possible by intensive preparation. In addition to saving you 10 to 1 in execution, planning offers a host of other tasty benefits as well. Among the most important…

It promotes focus. Planning is a disciplined thought process that produces fundamental decisions and actions that shape who you are, where you are going, what you do, and how, when, and why you do it. All of this is done with focus on the future.
It coordinates efforts. Planning allows you to engage in best practices. Being best briefed and best prepared with the best information allows you to create the best strategy.

It provides standards. Planning helps you size up your performance and measure your progress. Inspecting what you expect is more than a progress check; it’s also quality control.

It prepares the planner. It takes a good head to determine what you’re going to do and why. And it takes a strong stomach to stick with decisions when you hit the inevitable bumps in the road. By combining the two, there’s a better chance you’ll be successful.

It reveals roadblocks. Planning provides a reality check on the good, the bad, and the ugly of achieving a particular goal. To be forewarned is to be forearmed as one way to ensure victory is to be prepared for challenges and obstacles.

It stimulates thinking. Planning leads you onward and upward by providing the stimulation you need to avoid dead-ends and blind alleys. Comprehensive due diligence serves as a catalyst for new insights and ideas.

It fuels confidence. Planning helps you to reduce the paralyzing effect of fear. The safety net if there ever is going to be one is planning. Lack of it is like walking a tightrope with a blindfold on and no net below.

It offers an exit plan. Planning gives you a sneak peek of the price you must pay for success and to determine if it’s worth the risk. It serves as an early warning system allowing you to bow out gracefully rather than be thrown out later on.
The benefits of planning sound almost to good to be true, but the hype is legitimate. Effective planning allows you to do things better, faster, and definitely cheaper.

Perfect the use of planning and you will win many battles by default. Planning means doing your homework… running twice as fast. A lawyer works out the opposition's legal arguments. An entrepreneur puts himself in the shoes of a contractual partner. The successful negotiator is the confident negotiator bolstered by advance knowledge and planning.

Value spontaneity as not everything can be planned for. Success involves establishing a delicate balance between planning and improvisation. What should never be left to chance, however, is the ability to execute any plan.

Let’s face it… we come to each stage of our lives as a novice. We all start on the bunny hill when it comes to being a successful spouse, parent, boss, even in dealing with death. With that reality in mind, it is imperative that we make planning count, as it is the greatest equalizer we will ever have the good fortune to enjoy.

Author's Bio: 

Gary Ryan Blair is President of The GoalsGuy. A visionary and gifted conceptual thinker, Gary is highly regarded as a speaker, consultant, strategic planner, and coach to leading companies throughout the globe.

He helps business owners, corporate executives and sales professionals manage their time, set their priorities, and stay focused so they can achieve their goals, grow their business, and sustain a lasting competitive advantage. Learn more at http://www.personalstrategicplan.com