We don’t get far in life without a plan—some sort of roadmap to guide us from point A to point B and beyond. Sure, we might be able to get by in some areas of our lives without a plan—and I’m all for spontaneity—but, eventually, lacking a plan or a roadmap for the way forward can catch up with us.

  • Would you drive cross-country without some sort of map or navigational aid? You might, but you’d most likely meander this way and that—getting nowhere fast.
  • Would you build a house with a hammer, nails, a pile of wood, and no blueprints? Sure, it might be OK to flail away with tools as a youngster, banging out a backyard treehouse in a day or two, but trust me, building a house—heck, even doing a little terra forming in the backyard—requires preparation and foresight.
  • As for your business aspirations, whether it’s starting-up a venture, launching a new product, opening a new office, or making a career change, do you just hang a shingle outside your office or on the web one day and—voila!—mission accomplished? You could, I suppose. Many do. But the distance between hanging a shingle and launching or growing a successful, sustainable business/career is significant.

All thoughts of quantum physics aside, the shortest distance between two points is still a straight line. Thus the most efficient way for you to get the outcomes you want from life, whether they be personal or professional pursuits, is to have a plan. Anything less is just a lot of scuffling.

Now, I’m not suggesting you plan every move of every day. Where’s the fun in that? Rest assured, if you plan the spontaneity out of life, your spouse, kids, and friends will soon protest. You’ve got to leave some things to chance . . . but leave too much, and the big things in life—your relationships, milestones such as getting married, buying a house, raising a family, starting a business, or moving up the career ladder—tend to fall by the wayside. It’s called spinning your wheels. To use a monkey analogy, it’s a lot like swinging in the branches without any goal in mind. Sure, it’s lots of fun, but eventually your arms get tired and it’s time to find a branch—the right branch—that’s going to get you where you need to be. If you had a plan, you’d already know which branch to grab, or better yet, have several options to hold tight.

What “branch” is the right branch for your career, your business, your life in general?

I’ll leave the relationship advice to the Dr. Phil’s of the world, and instead focus on my areas of expertise: branding, digital marketing, social media, and digital media.

  • First and foremost, do you have a BRAND? Whether you know it or not, you do actually have a brand. It might not be what you want it to be—yet!—but it is a brand. Making your brand resonate with your customers and customers-to-be, is where the planning comes in. What is your brand story? What is the emotional connection between your product or service and your customers that only your brand can satisfy?
  • Do you have a MARKETING PLAN for your business—and by marketing plan, I mean a real marketing plan, not just some notion that you have to get the word out, run some ads, and distribute a few brochures? What I’m talking about is a marketing plan that articulates your vision, describes your brand promise, identifies your target audience, and details what channels you will use to tell your brand story to that audience (your blog, website, social media platforms, online advertising, radio, TV, etc.) in ways that connect with your target audience according to your plan.
  • Drilling down further, do you have a plan for how you will connect with your brand acolytes through SOCIAL MEDIA? A social media plan is far more that intending to post a couple of items to Facebook and Twitter from time-to-time. A successful social media plan outlines what messages you want to communicate, how the content gets created (and by whom), what channels will be used to deliver that content, and who is responsible for ensuring the content is posted, reactions are monitored and responded to, etc.
  • Going further, look at the DESIGN ASSETS you bring to a project (such as logos, graphics, images) versus what additional items you need to create in support of your project (replacement graphics, audio, videos, etc.)?

Clearly, having a plan that connects these various items with other aspects of your business—sales, operations, finance—is critical to helping you, your team, and your company keep all of your moving parts moving in the right direction.

With a plan, if you’ve done your homework right—if you’ve examined your marketplace, your competitors, your target audience, and (most importantly) gone through a thorough round of self-examination—there’s no wasted time, energy, or resources. Everything you do on a daily basis is in support of the plan. And while nothing is a sure bet (except maybe the Dodgers making the playoffs again this year, but that’s another story), when you plan, when you have a roadmap, you begin to remove the guesswork and the worry from the day-to-day of your life, your business, and your career.

Guesswork and worry are huge energy drains. Imagine what removing those drains from your life, your business, and your career could mean to your ability to focus on your desired outcomes and achieve your goals.

Give Barrel O’Monkeyz a shout out. We’d be glad to help you create new plans or jumpstart your existing ones. In the meantime, share here how planning has made a difference in your life or profession.

Paul June is King Monkey of BARREL O’MONKEYZ, a San Diego-based strategic marketing agency specializing in Sports and Active Lifestyle markets. We serve as a seasoned, outsourced marketing team for companies looking to ramp up sales and launch new products. Our barrel is full of talent and creative arms ready to prove we don’t just monkey around!