How to Create a Plan That Works

I'm starting to complete our basement -- 1600 square feet of space we lovingly call our "bowling alley".  Interestingly enough, the Pike Peak Regional Building Department says we cannot begin until we submit a plan, a design of how things will look for their approval.  The purpose of the enforcement of a code of practice is "to provide minimum standards to protect the public health and safety by regulating and controlling buildings, structures, and equipment...".  Makes sense.  It is for our good and the good of others.  It involves plans and inspections to ensure what we say we are going to do is actually done.  Plan, Do, Check, Review.  

Here is a planning process I and many others have adopted to ensure we have thought through in enough detail and rigour so we can start quickly towards our goal and yet have the flexibility within the plan to allow for changes.  Even the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department allow for changes!  This planning tool is so easy to do concisely and well, it can be done on one page. Today we'll look at the first three.

The 5 Step Planning Tool  - 1. Vision 2. Status Quo 3. Options 4 Milestones 5. Action


First of all write down in brief bullet points what you see, feel, and want the desired outcome to look like, the Ideal Final Result.  Steven Covey states one of the 7 habits of highly successful people is to "Begin with the end in mind! "  I agree.  It is important to start here.  If we start with where we are now, as advocated by a lot of planners, we can end up getting bogged down in the detail, or worse yet, get so discouraged by what is going on now we never look up to see what is possible.  

As we shared in a previous blog, state the vision in present, positive tense.  For example with the basement finishing, "We are enjoying and using our newly finished basement and love having friends and family over so we can entertain and serve them.' It looks even more amazing than we imagined, and we love the fact we did most of the work ourselves.  Our relationship with each other has improved as we shared together both the creative ideas and then the physical completion of our dream home."


Write down  brief  bullet points on the threats, opportunities, weaknesses and strengths that the current situation presents - factors  for and against your being able to move from where you are now to where you wish to be (vision).

Threats are those things external to yourself that could act as block to completing the vision such as, not getting planning permission, serious illness in the family, work getting hectic, etc.

Opportunities are those external factors that if we take advantage of will propel us towards our vision.  For instance, the regional building department is a great help, lots of advice on the internet, books published showing step by step guidance, a brother who is experienced in finishing basements and who lives close by, a nephew who is a master builder.

Weakness are the internal, i.e. personal things that might hold us back.  We might not have a large budget, we are not skilled at carpentry or things electrical.  We have difficulty imagining a final result practically, and have never taken on anything this big before, so we are fearful it will get on top of us.

Strengths are, on the other hand what we do have and can do.  There is some money in the bank.  We have some excellent tools for doing building work.  We lived on a ranch growing up and experienced watching and helping our father and brothers fix all sorts of things.  Our health is good, we love the smell of freshly cut wood -- all of this bodes well for us to tackle what we have before us to drive us towards our vision!


List briefly some of the options you could consider to mitigate the threats, take advantage of the opportunities, alleviate the weaknesses and accentuate the strengths. At this stage it is best to blue sky it, state whatever comes to mind without reservation or limit.  We call it Green Lighting it.  If all the lights were green, what would be possible?  If money were no object, time was not a factor, everyone says "Yes" to your requests for help, etc.  Therefore, we could list as options:

Get our nephew to come do it, live with us for awhile and teach us how as we go along. 

Get a designer to come look at the space and give us the plan. 

Take 6 months off and do nothing else that fix up the basement,

Attend courses to become a qualified electrical contractor and builder.

In our next blog, we will continue with the more nitty gritty of prioritising our plan with the 4. Milestones and 5. Action steps.

In the meantime, why not plan something in your life or work?  If you have captured a vision from the previous blogs, see if you can now move on to have a considered reflection of the status quo?  Let me know if you need help.  By the way, my book, IMPACT! goes into great detail on how to complete a plan -- even for your whole life, so why not take a peak in it?

The good news is this -- you can become an excellent planner, and it will add to yours and others health and happiness.