Established, since 1997, leading UK based training provider.
Celebrating 25 years in business! CPD Member - The CPD Certification Service ilm Recognised Provider

Habits of Highly Effective People - Planning Ahead

Habits of highly effective people - planning ahead

Planning ahead is the major habit of all highly effective people

Do you know what are the subset goals that will form the steps towards your next major achievement?

The atomic theory tells us that all big things are composed of a vast number of small things.

Therefore all your elephant-sized goals are within your reach.

That is a truly inspiring thought.

All your goals are within your reach provided that they are logically possible (ie your goals don't violate any of the laws of nature).

We presuppose that you are not a god and therefore cannot perform miracles!

All your goals are within your reach provided that you are willing to

1. Evolve a method that is capable of achieving the goal
2. Put in the necessary effort to turn the theory into practice

So now you are ready to take your long range goal and begin to analyse it into its component parts.

FREE Training Needs Analysis Free Training Needs Analysis Logo

FREE Training Needs Analysis!

In order to get the best from your training, you need to discover your relative strengths and weaknesses. Take our FREE training needs analysis questionnaire now and get a report in less than five minutes!

Analysis is the mental act of breaking ideas down into their smaller constituent parts.

  1. You need to break-down your giant elephant sized goals into its smaller cellular parts so that you can understand all that is required from you to achieve the goals, and
  2. You can begin to target your efforts onto the smaller, easier more manageable subset goals.

The way to do that is to do it on paper.

In order to analyse anything, you need to memorise the following magic question:

"What are the major subset categories of this?"

You apply this question to your major goal and write down the answers.

When you have the first level subdivisions of your major goal you reapply the same question to each of the subset categories; "What are the major subset categories of this?"

And again you write down the answers. When you have finished you will have the second level and the first level subdivision of your major goal.

Then you reapply the same question to each of the sub-sub-set categories: "What are the major subset categories of this?"

And again you write down the answers. When you have finished you will have the third level; the second level; and the first level subdivision of your major goal.

Can you see that, theoretically, you could onto infinity, keep doing that and finish with a vast number of tiny subatomic sized goals that, when combined together, form a complete description of the major goal.

But, in reality you don't keep analysing forever. If you did, you would spend your whole life in the planning stage, never actually do anything about the goals you have always dreamed of achieving.

Many people do fall into this trap. The trap of analysing forever; ie spending their whole life in the planning stage: never swinging into action and therefore never actually doing anything about the goals they had always dreamed of.

The name of this trap is "paralysis by analysis".

Analysis is a means to an end. Analysis is not an end in itself.

Analysis of the major goal is the first step to achieving the major goal.

There are various ways to do your analysis of the major goal:

1. On paper in normal note taking fashion
2. As a mind map
3. As a grid

1. On paper in normal note taking fashion

With this method you simply take an A4 pad or a computer and start writing out your thoughts that will flood in whenever you ask yourself the magic question "What are the major subset categories of this?"

You can ask this question of anything and it will trigger significant information.

Example: Suppose you set your goal to "get in great physical shape"

You ask "What are the major subset categories of getting in great physical shape?"

My Answers:

  1. Exercise
  2. Diet
  3. Rest and recuperation
  4. Mind set

Then you would take the term "exercise" and reiterate the same magic question

"What are the major subset categories of exercise?"

My answer:

  1. Aerobic endurance
  2. Anaerobic strength
  3. Flexibility

Then you would take the term "aerobic exercise" and reiterate the same magic question. "What are the major subset categories of this: aerobic exercise?"

My answer:

  1. Running
  2. Swimming
  3. Cycling

At this point I would stop because I don't need to break down what I mean by running.

But you could break it down further if you wanted to

"What are the major subset categories of this: running?"

My answer:

  1. Short distance sprints
  2. Middle distance
  3. Long distance

You could keep going for as long as you want, becoming ever more refined in your conception.

By the time you had done the same thing for all your subsets, can you see that you would have a mass of information and ideas from which to draw your initial plan of action.

Mind mapping

Because there is so much information generated by reiterating the magic question "What are the major subset categories of this?" I prefer to do my analysis as a mind map spider diagram.

I prefer to see it as a schematic line drawing; and I use a computer programme to do the diagramming of my analysis

You may prefer to use a mind mapping method to organise your thoughts and keep them in categories and subcategories and sub subcategories.

A mind map is a very visual method of representing structured information

Use a grid

An alternative way of representing your analysis is to use grids. You can use excel. Start with the major goal and ask the magic question

"What are the major subset categories of this?"

You use excel to record the first level analysis subdivision and then for each subdivision you reiterate the question "What are the major subset categories of this?"

With each level you find yourself confronted by ever more numerous cells.

Each cell making up one part of your elephant sized goal.

In brief here are the steps again

Name your long range inspiring elephant sized goal

Time Management Training Time Management Training Course Logo

Time Management Training

Most people feel they need help with time management. How can you get more done in the same amount of time? How can you stop other people wasting your time? If you want to know how, then click here to find out more about our time management training course.

For example:

  1. Make a manned mission to Mars
  2. Start your own business
  3. Get into great physical shape

Analyse your goal down into its component parts by reiterating the same question over and over and record your answers until you feel that you have sufficient detail to derive your first specific plan of action.

The magic question you must memorise and use is "What are the major subset categories of this?"

There are various ways to do your analysis of the major goal:

  1. On paper in normal note taking fashion.
  2. As a mind map.
  3. As a grid.

Later on today, try it for yourself and see what happens.

More information about Corporate Coach Group Time Management Training Courses

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

Blogs by Email

Do you want to receive an email whenever we post a new blog? The blogs contain article 5-10 minutes long - ideal for reading during your coffee break!

Further Reading in Personal Development

  • Top Skills Needed by Entrepreneurs
    Being furloughed or working from home, has seen many people become dissatisfied with their current employment and dream of working for themselves. Find out if you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur.
    Read Article >
  • What are the Qualities of a Professional Sales Person?
    To be a successful sales person, you need to have certain qualities. Some people seem to be natural sales people, but it is a fact that many of these qualities can be taught. Which of these qualities do you consider to be the most important?
    Read Article >
  • Confidence Builder
    Can you meet life's challenges square on? Or do you stand back to wait see what happens, or even worse hide away and miss your opportunity altogether? Rewire your brain to meet the next challenging situation with these confidence builder tips.
    Read Article >
  • Fear Can Cause Failure
    The fear of failure, the fear of loss, the fear of disappointment is sufficient to stop many people from even making the attempt to win a prize. And as a result, they lose. Fear of failure causes failure.
    Read Article >
  • Seeking the Approval of Others
    The fear of rejection is, for many people, a deep seated fear. It is so deep seated and primitive a fear, that many are not consciously aware of its existence, though we are painfully aware of its effects.
    Read Article >

Looking for Personal Development Training?

If you're looking to develop your Personal Development Skills, you may find this Personal Development Training Course beneficial:

Open Training Course Pricing and Availability

27 - 28 February
London - Central
£900 +VAT
2 - 3 March
Online - Teams
£900 +VAT
6 - 7 March
Manchester City
£900 +VAT
13 - 14 March
£900 +VAT
More dates and locations available
Save £100 on this course

Next Open Course Starts in 18 days, London - Central, places available Book Now >