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Pity the man who inherits a million and isn't a millionaire. Here's what would be pitiful, if your income grew and you didn't. ~ Jim Rohn

Chaos Planning

Chaos Planning and Accelerated Learning goes hand in hand, which - in essence - is a continuous monitoring, evaluation and correction (if and when necessary) process better known as… life long learning, which is the foundation of proactive preparation.

The day-to-day hustle of everyday life lends itself to a world of chaos and confusion. With fires to put out around every corner, we are easily drawn into a reactive-survival state of mind that we carry with us into the next day, week, month and year. Before we know it, we're nowhere near where we thought we would be. We feel like we’re one big miserable failure and only able to barely survive… providing that we take it one day at a time.

We have a desire to up our game and to improve our performance. So we take a look at and “study” - as seen through our eyes - other more successful people to discover and learn about their secrets for success. But their success secrets aren't magical, nor mystical, nor extraordinary. As a matter of fact, success is a balanced combination of a mindset in equilibrium (i.e. our Uwelt), awareness, a sound GPS, targeted preparation strategies, intentional planning and… GRIT.Firmness of character, indomitable spirit, pluck, resolution, fortitude and courage

High performing (i.e. successful) people have one thing in common… a healthy dose of self-worth and -confidence. Whenever we’re operating in the zoneI.e a balanced self-worth & self-confidence sync. and performing well, we become so confident that when we confidently take the next step, expecting nothing but success, which - due to synchronicity - often is the case. Self-worth and confidence drives success, but it requires preparedness, self-discipline, sweating the details and the daily execution of excellence, especially in a professional context.

1. Evolve your Umwelt

Lift your levels of awareness and broaden your horizons and tweak/change your mindset, NOT by filling it with fact and knowledge, but by gradually transforming it from being a closed mind to an open mind.

People who ain’t intentional about planning their life are in a constant state of chaos and confusion (i.e. future shock). Gradually and ultimately, they leave the fate of their life's to chance, hoping for that one lucky break… someday! It is just plain stupid to invest (i.e. plenty of effort, much energy and money, your own and/or that of others such as your parents for example) thousands of hours into our life's, just so that we could roll the dice and gamble (hoping for the best, and when it doesn't happen, to roll the dice again) with the outcome and our future.

The chaos planning process is about systematically creating the future that we desire (finding and keeping our dream job, and for that matter our life in general). It’s intended to transform chaos and confusion into clarity and confidence. When we want to improve the likelihood of success in our life's, we must be intentional… plan and operate strategically with intention, strive for daily execution of excellence and work diligently to build our reputation (legacy) and gain trust (values/ethics) in our professional network. Our future depends on it.

Resist going only where the money or security is… Replace external forces (i.e mainly money and false security) with self-examination, the Big Squeeze and ME-time (self development and growth).

When it comes to questions (critical question & thinking) about life, our career, what we need, what we want and what we think will make us happy, most people probably have their heads in the sand.

More often than not, we - career-wise that is - crave unique work experiences that challenge us, provide a sense of purpose and belonging, reward us with a good standard of living and offer periodic recognition that makes us feel proud of what we’re doing day-to-day (dream job specifications on career center). But the sad reality is that most of us are not finding, taking (if we do find them) or even creating (if we don’t find them) opportunities that fit that specifications of the career we dream of. And ever more rapidly, our talent is being immediately funneled from graduation into narrow channels that is regarded as “for-sure” income earners. These options are usually a limited selection of “prestigious” and well-paid jobs, currently consuming approximately up to one-third of the graduating classes of schools, colleges or universities. Most of the graduates didn’t enter tertiary education passionate about and convinced that they wanted to follow a prestigious and “for-sure” career path, yet they graduate into these “utopian” jobs in huge numbers.

Something else is at play here. Because, why making the obvious, comfortable choices, despite the fact that we actually know better.

This - mainly - is because we are confronted with a huge systematic challenges, that is genuinely painful to address: this directionless (absence of dreams, a vision, mission, value and legacy statements sourcing from minimum standards and sound GPS) drive our decades of education and subtly instills within each of us a vulnerability (i.e. being defenseless and open to manipulation) to for aggressive and well-funded marketing tactics of a handful of major corporations and companies that sell us specific and selected options as the logical next step in our high-achieving lives. Simply put… in general employers only  see us as hamsters in excellent condition, innately attracted to the idea of just a bigger wheel.

This is how our dreams, ideals and aspirations get stifled. We are voluntarily signing up to go to places where we cannot even think clearly about the important questions that we frequently should be asking ourselves…

  • What am I passionate about?
  • What do I find fulfilling, meaningful, purposeful, …etc.
  • What makes me truly happy? Is happiness the #1 objective?
  • What do I genuinely do well? (not in the areas where I used to get A's, but in the areas that were never even tested)
  • How can I be a better contributor? What does that actually imply?
  • How can I work to help others?
  • How can I challenge customs and authority that need to change? (become trouble shooter, troubleshooter and problem solver)

We need to go somewhere else and do something else that gives us more than a minute to think about all of this. We need to overcome these personal challenges with a healthy dose of two things… intent (SWOT-analysis & subsequent LDP, CPD, PLP & SDS, focussing on actively allocate time and energy into surveying what is possible - rather than probable - to accomplish in our careers and consciously fight the fast-paced nature of an education and employment system that is otherwise prescribing and dictating our futures. Seek out a wide-open vantage point and examine the world, on our own terms. To get our heads out of the sand so to speak.) and chaos (BIG-squeeze) (a whole lot of chaos  by putting a sledgehammer to your ideas about the future, job opportunities, international development, family, education, own self-worth, people and places, concepts of growth and justice and service, and success, global politics, the energy crisis, global warming… and the list goes on and on …and on.)

It has to become our mission to discover what our real talents and interests are and align them with the greatest challenges we see in the world today. When we stay focused only on what we are already familiar with or deliberately exposed to, we close ourselves off to the opportunity to learn about problems in the world that we didn’t even know needed solving, the very problems that we may be the only ones best suited to solve, the very problems that may spark new career paths chosen with true purpose and perspective.

The most efficient way to achieve this, is to deliberately plan a “descent into chaos” (A calculated a leap into full abandon of what you’ve always been told or even genuinely believed would make you happy and successful; an excuse to explore new ways of living and thinking and really try them on for size. This doesn’t necessarily mean to quit your job and run away from society, traveling until your last cent in your bank account tells you to go home. Rather, it means that you establish a plan to meaningfully interact with the world in a manner that enlightened by questioning dogmas). This “chaos plan”, should force us into unknown territory to learn, start things from scratch and overcome personal and professional obstacles (psyche wounds). Nobody can tell another person how or when or where to conduct this journey (i.e planning for chaos), only that it is imperative that you must at some stage in your life. Everyone’s idea of chaos is different. Everyone’s readiness to chuck out old ideas and values will be different. Everyone’s creative genius, when let loose to find a new way of life, will be different.

The chaos planning - however you choose to go about it - is yours and yours alone. It might involve many things such as travelling, packing up and moving out and away, a sabbatical, workshops, courses, reading, research, questioning the status quo, exploring different opinions, ideas and views. But - most importantly - it should involve sitting very still and listening… to yourself, to others, and to the world.

By deliberately taking the time to extent our awareness, boundaries and perspectives with intentional chaos, we build our self-worth and the courage to rebuke norms and engage in a life-long journey and path of self-discovery (oryx). That courage, that new spirit of adventure, will in turn unearth the unique and meaningful careers we’ve been craving and shape the rest of our lives with ideas, experiences and values that are ours because we chose them. We chose them as the things we held on to (GPS) when we are confronted with and challenged by chaos.

2. The process

Ultimately, intentional outcomes come from intentional vision, intentional planning and intentional actions. Chaos planning isn’t a one-time event. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it process. Once you’ve developed your mission, you need to break it down into prioritized action steps.

Although most people are adequately prepared with their plans for the future, they seldom make good use of the information provided and feedbacks from the environment and their peers to make the necessary adjustments to their future plans to accommodate change. With this kind of reactive mindset, very little is actually achieved productively, often results in future shock and an inability to achieve success (i.e. manage to follow a day to day survival existence - going through the motions, but prosperity, joy, contentment and happiness is out of the question)

But with an intention and chaos-proactive strategic mindset, you have confidence, a positive attitude (conative) and a drive of being eager to win, feel empowered to take action, to overcome, regard obstacles as challenges (opportunities to learn something new) and confidence which spreads through your personal and professional network like wildfire (create symbiosis and synchronicity).

Sadly though, every year millions of individuals come up with great ideas and future plans (new year resolutions that normally only last till the end of January, and in some cases till March, but all gone and forgotten by May). And every year they spend countless hours creating and re-creating detailed plans. Frequently most of this effort goes to waste as they fail to follow through on their own well thought-out plans. Because no amount of planning breeds success, only execution done right which is a disciplined process and a logical set of connected activities (prioritized action steps taken deliberately) to make a plan work.

Many people allow themselves to become swept up in putting out fires instead of executing their plans. Most people fail at execution because they - firstly - don't have a reference frame work (GPS) in place, and secondly the don't sustain (tweak, adjust and adapt to accommodate change - which - incidentally - is the only certainty of modern life today) such a reference framework in order to remain connected to your intentional vision, intentional planning and intentional actions by intentionally….

2.1. Setting clear priorities

We often fail in carrying out our planning when we set too many priorities at once. Establish only a maximum of 3 priorities at any time, along with supporting initiatives. For example, a priority could be to find and secure a dream job. Supporting initiatives might be to conduct a SWOT-analyses, initiate reverse engineer mapping and compile a targeted job search strategy.

Having too many priorities is like trying to keep too many balls in the air. It generally becomes problematic (and initiate destructive chaos), if only one gets focused on as a result of time constraints and pressures. Then the chances are excellent that - sooner, rather than later - all the priority balls will suddenly fall to the ground.

2.2. Collect and analyze data/information

We often specify measurable goals in our strategic plans. But once the planning process is a wrap, the plan gets files and set on “a shelf” and not revisited until the next crisis (i.e. when the stress barometer kicks your environmental filter into action).

A key to ensuring that execution is staying on top of outcomes, we should develop key performance indicators (KPA's) that can be assessed and monitored on an ongoing basis. We need to collect operating data related to these indicators and evaluate results on a frequently schedule basis (e.g. daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly depending on the context).

We should evaluate what's working and continue these activities and enhance them to boost performance. Especially with failing results, we should determine what processes don't work and make immediate adjustments SMARTly to prevent further deterioration and slipping into chaos.

2.3. Monitor strategy & plans

Monitor the progress made with the chaos planning and execution. These evaluations should be more in-depth and designed to determine whether changes, adaptations and tweaks are required.

Periodic strategic monitoring should accommodate strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (or SWOT). This will guide us to determine the plan's/strategy soundness in light of reality changes within our personal and professional environments, industry of choice and the economy. Monitoring should aim to exploit existing strengths and opportunities, while managing weaknesses and threats.

We should also wield another important tool: a one-page self-development and growth résumé. All the essential elements of our chaos plan are boiled down into one page and provide a nutshell information sharing document. A benefit of this information sharing is that our professional network will feel like they are participating and contributing to the overall success of the profession and will feel excited, motivated and engaged.

2.4. Keeping a networking rhythm

Without continuous networking (specifically professional networking) and constant communications, we often lose touch with our goals and objectives and over time we veer off course (derail). This leads to poor performance results, which can have a disastrous effect for any well planned LDP & CPD.

To ensure that - for example - the one's CPD remains in sync with the reality and our personal vision and mission, we should periodically conduct different networking updates (professional profile, Gravatar and online exposure… don't forget eye-to-eye interactions). Frequent networking updates should take place often, with the aim to determine important recent changes such as developments, skills and experiences needed or required.

Networking updates, provide rapid-fire updates specifically targeted for a professional niche (i.e. specialised knowledge). Thus, a WWW approach…

  1. what next (intended step in sync with vision/mission)
  2. who's responsible and accountabilities (my responsibility, in correlation with who in network)
  3. when it's due (when in place, in correlation mission/legacy)

3. Excellence in daily execution ensures progress

Sweat the details - focus.

We can have a vision for the future, but we need to focus on the work we have today (power of now). Plans are great, but you won’t see progress unless they’re translate into daily actions (ACT). We need to be able to tie our everyday activities, projects and functions to our current vision and subsequent mission. And do what we do well, excellent and “perfect”.

Use the top three priorities identified - the BIG 3 -  and figure out ways and means how to deliver results (obtain objectives and achieve goals). Reporting and feedbacks on our BIG 3 helps us to feel confident that we're contributing and also provide the opportunity to celebrate wins, as well as engage in a dialog and discussion on any possible performance gaps and improvements (criticism).

More often than not, there are plenty of days and weeks where there’s a ton of reactive activities (chaos) in our life's and it feels like we're not making progress at all (i.e. take two steps forward, and three steps backward). Doing things excellently everyday, without fail, will counteract chaos, promote progress (success) and avoid the Newton's Cradle Trap.

4. Stick to your goals, specially, when the going gets tough

Planning and training for chaos.

“Planning for chaos” is a simple way of saying… don't whine that the circumstances aren't ideal. Accept the responsibility to be better prepared next time around.

This mentality and attitude can be incredibly useful when it comes to sticking to our goals and living a healthy life, especially when life gets busy.

Here's how you can implement training and planing for chaos…

Plan for it

We have a goal that we want to stick to consistently. For example, following a nutritious diet or meditating for five minutes each morning.

When everything goes as planned, then sticking to our goal isn't too difficult. Providing that we wake up on time, then we have the extra five minutes to meditate in the morning. If rush hour traffic isn't bad, then we should be able to make it home in time to prepare a nutritious meal, before going to our kid's performance tonight.

Basically, if there aren't any unexpected interruptions, then it just comes down to getting started.

But when life gets busy and chaos starts to happen, that's when we start to come up with excuses. Phrases like “I wasn't expecting X to happen…” start creeping in and we end up pushing off the goals that we said were important.

The chaos and unpredictability of life is one of the factors that makes sticking to our goals quite difficult. Which brings us to the following important questions… How can we remain consistent when day-to-day life is so unpredictable? How can we plan for chaos?

The If-Then Technique

The If-Then Technique is an effective way to plan for chaos and stick to our goals even when life gets crazy. Why? Because it forces you to create a strategy for reducing the scope, but sticking to the schedule before you actually need to do so.

All you need to do is complete this phrase: “If [something unexpected], then [your response].”

For example…

    If I don’t wake up in time to run tomorrow morning, then I’ll run after work.     If I can’t make it to yoga during my lunch break, then I’ll take a stretching break this afternoon.     If I buy something unhealthy for lunch, then I’ll cook a healthy meal for dinner.

The If-Then Technique forces you to consider the unpredictable circumstances that so often enter our daily lives. And that means you have fewer excuses for doing nothing and more options for sticking to your goals.

You can also use this technique as a way to plan for poor performances as well. For example, a basketball player could say, “If I miss 10 free throws at practice, then I’ll visualize myself making 20 free throws before I fall asleep tonight.”

It's a useful way of forcing yourself to consider how you will practice deliberately rather than just putting your time.

Where to Go From Here

Having a busy day, dealing with unexpected delays, getting sick, and traveling for work are just a few of the thousands of tiny emergencies that prevent most people from sticking to their goals. It doesn't have to be that way, though.

If you choose to plan for chaos and use The If-Then Technique to outline ways that you can “reduce the scope, but stick to the schedule,” then you can find options for staying on-task even when your day gets off-course.

When you can't do it all, do something small.

5. Frequent monitoring, assessments and evaluation

With a strategy in place and daily focus made clear, we’ve laid the groundwork for high performance. Now, it’s time to make sure that we and our network are working together like a well-oiled machine. There’s nothing more frustrating than individual parts that don’t add up to a whole. Stepping back to look at the project (e.g. job search) holistically is key.

Look for areas where there is a disconnect or where you seem to be off track. Then, determine whether you need to make adjustments.

Sometimes, there are good reasons for differences between where we are and where we expected to be. The politics may have shifted, our professional plans may have changed, or the key performance indicators might be the wrong metric to measure with. If we’re doing well, then celebrate. If you need to close some gaps, take SMART corrective actions.

6. Unpredictable freedom and sweetness of chaos

I’m going to share a productivity, planning and organizational hack that will change your life. It will yield some unpredictable results, but if you approach it the right way, it could bring some of the most amazing work of your life, along with freedom, joy, exhilaration.

What’s this miraculous hack?

It’s a simple one: let go. Let go of control and allow yourself to be swept away by the powerful currents of life. Let go of planning and embrace not know what will happen. Let go of productivity and be open to new ideas, new opportunities, spontaneous creativity. The Case for Chaos

Consider what we’re doing when we plan our day, our week, our year: we are trying to exert control over life, and predict with our plans the course our lives will take today, this week, this year.

We are saying: this is what I’m going to do today. This is how things will go. If I get these things done, life will be good. This is my idea of what this day will hold.

Now consider this: we have absolutely no idea if any of this is true. We cannot predict the future with any kind of certainty, and the idea that we can plan based on these shaky predictions is a nice fiction, but a fiction nonetheless. We do not know what will happen today, much less the rest of the week or month. Knowing what will happen this year? What a crock!

And consider: what if we could know? What if we could accurately predict every single day, and plan each day exactly? Would this be a great thing? I submit that it would suck infinitely more than not knowing. Having foreknowledge of the future means we know what will happen each day, which means not only will our days be ridiculously boring, but we’re stuck on one unshakable path. Foreknowledge means a crazy lack of freedom.

So we don’t know what will happen, nor should we want to. We can try to plan, but those plans are not based on real knowledge and probably won’t happen, so planning is a waste of time.

What can we do instead of trying to predict what will happen, instead of planning? Learn to embrace uncertainty, and be open to change. Learn to let go of control, and surf the ever-changing wave. Let unpredictability rule, let randomness be the force of our life, let spontaneity be the rule. Embracing Chaos for Good

Some random thoughts based on my experiments with letting go:

    Work is better with chaos. While the idea of having peaceful order to our workday is a nice one, it’s an illusion. And it’s frankly boring. Work based on fun, play, and spontaneity is more interesting. Imagine a project that is started with a spontaneous idea, and then changes course as you do it, embraces the ideas of strangers, ends up in a fantastic new place you could not have possibly foreseen when you started. This is how I did my last book, The Effortless Life, and it was one of the most fun I’ve ever had on a project. It’s how I’m doing all my projects now, actually.     A year that isn’t planned. When I started Zen Habits in 2007, I had my year planned out in detail, with goals, actions and weekly plans. That, of course, was tossed out the door as soon as I started writing Zen Habits and meeting my first readers, who changed my life with their feedback and kind attention. My life was turned upside down, my plans became meaningless, and I learned that while life is unpredictable, that unpredictability can bring some amazing things.     Be open to new possibilities. I learned, that first year of Zen Habits, to be open to new opportunities. Time and time again, new doors opened for me that I didn’t know — couldn’t know — would even be there. I saw the new door opening, considered it, and went in. That happened repeatedly, and taught me that there is no way to plan a path when you don’t know what each step will bring, what changes will happen to that path as you walk along it.     Be open to strangers. Let’s say you plan your day rigidly. You’ve got your productivity system honed, you’re cranking out the tasks. You are a productivity machine! But now you randomly happen upon a stranger who says hi. You say hi back, and now you have a new opportunity: you can talk to this stranger, get to know him. But then you’d deviate from the plan! Do you stick to the plan, or talk to the stranger? Well, sticking to the plan would be more productive, and give you more control over your life. But if you talk to the stranger, you might make a new friend. You might learn something you’d never have learned otherwise. I’ve made some of my best friends like this, because I was willing to deviate from my plans and talk to a stranger.     Chaos is creativity, and creativity is chaos. They are the same thing. Creative work doesn’t happen by plan and control. Sure, some of the worlds creative geniuses were detail freaks, but they didn’t make a plan to come up with a creative genius idea — it came to them because they were open to random thoughts, explored paths no one else had thought to look down, took an idea they saw from someone else and twisted it in a new way. Creativity comes from a place of chaos, and it’s only when you open yourself to this lack of control that you can come up with your best creativity.     When we let go of our expectations that others will make us happy, we enjoy them more. We get angry and frustrated at people because they don’t act the way we want them to. We expect others to try to make us happy, to go out of their way to give us what we want. This is not why other people exist. When we let go of these expectations, we accept people for who they are, and learn to appreciate this uniqueness.     If you don’t expect things to go as planned, you are open to the unplanned. Something might arise that is unexpected, and if you go with it, you’ll have to let go of your previous plans. This can be a wonderful thing. Many people (including the old me) get frustrated when new things come up that were unplanned, when plans go awry, but it doesn’t have to be frustrating. Just expect plans to change, or don’t really plan at all. Expect unplanned things to happen, and when they do, smile.     Embrace not knowing what will happen. This is the ultimate freedom. You don’t know what you’re going to do today, nor what will come up. You are locked into nothing. You are completely free to do anything, to pursue any creative pursuit, to try new things as they come up, to be open to meeting new people. It can be scary at first, but if you smile when you think of not knowing, you’ll soon realize it’s a joyous thing.     When you’re not focused on one outcome, you open the possibility for many outcomes. Most people are focused on specific goals (outcomes), and relentlessly pursue that outcome. They then dismiss other possibilities as distractions. But what if you have no predetermined outcome? What if you say that anywhere you end up could be good? You now open an infinite amount of possibilities, and you’re much more likely to learn something than if you only try to do the things and learn the things that support your predetermined outcome.

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