Make a Plan that Works for You

By Jennie Hastings
[Mindful Money]

Have you ever heard Benjamin Franklin’s quote, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”? I’ve always rolled my eyes whenever I hear this saying. It feels too black and white for me. I operate in a more subtle realm. Life has shown me that staying open to the unexpected is fruitful and satisfying. Imposing too much of a plan on life feels restrictive.
At the same time, I must admit that having a plan is helpful. Simple things are improved by having a plan, like having a list before going to the grocery store or reading the driving directions before starting a trip. But when it comes to anything long term or complex, planning can make me feel overwhelmed.  
There is almost nothing more long term or complex than business and financial planning, so what can someone like me do when I want to stick my head in the sand? The best answer is to find a way of planning that works for me.

My Three Points
Some people are good at drafting elaborate plans. They can break things down into little parts and say this will go here and that will go there. For me, a plan is much more about energy and where I want it to move. Because I am so inclined to flow with energy, I know that I cannot impose too much detail on what will happen, and that I must be open to each present moment as it unfolds. However, this does not mean that I can’t set a strong intention and take the steps to promote the outcome I am hoping for.
The best example I can share from my own experience comes from when I decided to stop working as a massage therapist for a chiropractor and opened my own practice. I researched what a business plan was and how to write one. I even met with local retired business executives who helped me formulate my plan.
As I sat in my meeting with these two gentlemen, I began to realize that what they were showing me was not something I felt was necessary for my business. I was not asking anybody for a loan. I had saved enough money that I could pay my bills for a few months. I knew that mostly what I needed at the beginning was consistent work, and that meant what I needed was clients.
I left the meeting with a sample business plan full of financial projections and forecasts that did not seem relevant to me. I went home and over the course of a few days struggled with the plan until I realized that my plan could be simple. I narrowed it down to three points:
1. Join and regularly attend a business networking meeting.        
2. Create and regularly send out email newsletters.
3. Bill insurance.
I had observed at the chiropractor’s office that these three points seemed to deliver the most powerful results for finding and retaining clients. I put away the sample business plan, grateful that it had inspired me to write a mission statement and do some other deeper thinking about what I was doing, and jotted down my three-point plan on the inside of a notebook.
With this plan, I was able to create a thriving massage practice with people eager to work with me. Once my massage practice was flowing smoothly, I was able to make other simple plans to move myself into other places I wanted to go, like writing a book, incorporating other massage therapists into my practice, and becoming a coach and yoga teacher.
Breaking long, complex projects into simple, short-term plans is the method of planning that works for me. If I get too far ahead of myself, I feel overwhelmed and can stop myself before I even get started. If I have a big project I want to tackle, I usually spend some time thinking about it as a whole, and then figure out what the first step entails and make a plan to complete that step.
One downside of this method of planning is not finishing things. This method works if I can recognize when I have completed a section of my plan and it is time to move on. For instance, for a long time I had a certain number in my head for how much money I wanted to save. This number seemed big to me at the time, but in the last year or so I have steadily maintained that amount in my savings. Having achieved that part of my plan, I recently realized it is now time to figure out what the next part of my plan is. This means getting clear on my values and where I would like to be next.

The Big Picture
Maybe you will find that your method of planning is different than mine. The important thing about having a plan is that it gives you a place to start and a way to measure your progress. Often at the beginning of a project, we can look at the big picture and see where we are trying to go. As we proceed into the muck of the process, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture. A plan of any kind will remind us in those moments of the bigger idea and guide us to the next small steps.
Perhaps the most difficult part of making a plan is knowing where you want to go. When you are on a Mindful Money journey, you understand that life is not defined by dollar signs but by how we feel. Once we have identified what we truly value, making a plan that works for us is the wisest thing we can do to get there.

Jennie Hastings, LMT, BCTMB, has studied money in the therapeutic process from every angle: as a client, patient, and practitioner. She is the author of The Inspired Massage Therapist (Massage Blossom Books, 2012). Hastings believes having a career in massage and bodywork means having infinite possibilities, and she is always exploring new ways to evolve her practice. You can find more from her at