Let’s just be honest, planning is boring, tedious, time consuming and just not sexy. It takes insight and foresight to plan. You must take into account strength and weaknesses, timing, age, background, education etc, etc. As you get more and more adept at writing plans, you will quickly become acquainted with the economic term “opportunity cost”. Opportunity cost has been described by economists as “the basic relationship between scarcity and choice”. This principle hones on the concept that the true cost of a good is not what you pay for it but rather it is what you had to forego in order to get that particular good. Here is an illustration from http://www.theeconomist.com; going for a walk may appear to cost nothing, until you consider the opportunity forgone to use that time earning money. The fundamental problem that economics addresses is how to meet unlimited wants with limited resources. Opportunity cost therefore is an important tenet in answering that question because it probes us to ensure that resources are indeed being used efficiently.
Lets apply this principle to out personal lives, we all have unlimited wants (aka dreams) but we have limited resources such as time, money, intelligence, patience, support etc. Planning allows you to more accurately evaluate the cost of a decision. I remember one of my mentees and she was definitely a procrastinator. She had been taking nursing prerequisite courses for over 3 years and as I listened to her talk on and on about the challenges of taking more than 2 classes a semester and being fixated on getting into a prestigious program which had rejected her multiple times before. I finally got fed up and told her, “I appreciate your perseverance, but just remember that for every year you decide to delay, you are losing on average about $100,000 a year from future earnings”. The true cost of the decision to delay is not just another year, it is the loss of a potential $100,000 in income. It is the time you will lose by having to delay retirement in the future. It is the time you will lose with your family in the future. It is also a loss of the compound interest you will have gotten from savings. Within a year, my mentee got into a nursing program. Not necessarily the program of her choice but definitely got good training and now she works a nurse in her field of choice.
In conclusion, I urge you therefore to view planning as a GPS system. It calculates the time (true cost) of reaching your particular destination (your dream) by taking into account multiple variables such as distance, time of day, traffic, roadblocks, setbacks, accidents, other drivers on the road with you, the topography, the seasons of the year etc. Let’s not be arrogant enough to think that we can free style or way through life. If God himself makes plans, how can we be exempt? I leave you with a quote by William Gibson from The Economist.