“Every battle is won before it is fought.” - Sun Tzu
I just spent the last two hours planning out every quarter of 2022.
Like a general in his tent before a campaign, I’ve mapped out everything that needs to be done from February onward. The decisions I need to make, the hands I need to shake, the things I need to learn, the actions I need to take—I’m now following a long checklist that will ensure when December rolls around, I’m more successful than I was in January.
You may be thinking this sounds intense.
You may be thinking this sounds like a lot of work.
You may be considering leaving this post.
But I want to leave you with a thought: the same way that a great movie is made, the same way that an incredible novel is written, the same way that a successful business is created, a year can be planned out and won through a series of small actions.
By December, you could be fitter, wealthier, happier, smarter. You could have stories and photos from your trips around the world. You could have projects take off. And you could have a list of accomplishments that elevate both your credibility and wisdom.
The only way these things will happen is through planning and execution.
You have four campaigns to win this year:
Your goal is to have a series of wins in each quarter.
So the question is—what wins need to happen? Do you need to learn a skill? Do you need to make a big decision? Do you need to start something? Do you need to end something? What actions do you need to take each quarter?
Don’t overcomplicate this process. Just write down the quarter as a header (e.g., Q1) and bullet points beneath.
Writing down what you need to do within the next three months forces you to be ambitious but pragmatic. It forces you to materialize nearby targets for you to hit.
In Stoicism, there’s an exercise called premeditatio malorum, which translates to “the pre-meditation of evils.”
If you’ve worked in a business, then you’ve heard of this as “contingency planning.”
If you’ve planned something with a group, then you’ve heard of this as “plan b.”
What will you do when life happens? Are you prepared if you lose your job? What if you suffer unintended health problems?
At the bottom of my battle planning page, I wrote down everything that could go wrong this year: health issues, financial issues, personal issues.
I’ll be honest, this wasn’t a fun process. But it’s not supposed to be fun; it’s supposed to be effective. It’s supposed to prevent me from ever saying, “I never saw that coming.”
By having thought of a few worst-case scenarios, I can take action today to decrease the chance that they happen (working out, saving, etc.). If they do happen, at the very least I won’t be surprised; I’ll be prepared.
Remember that your battle and contingency planning doesn’t have to be perfect.
It shouldn’t be. It should be a rough outline of what you’re aiming for each quarter. Some things you’ll do, some things you’ll scrap, but the important thing is you’ll have your targets for the next eleven months.
Your goal is to hit as many of them as possible.
Your goal is to win 2022.
Motivation is a myth.
You should make your work more enjoyable.