I’m fond of this Eisenhower quote:
Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.
(From a speech to the National Defense Executive Reserve Conference in Washington, D.C. (November 14, 1957) ; in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957, National Archives and Records Service, Government Printing Office, p. 818 )
This is one reason why I ask participants in A Meeting With Their Writing and clients who get email support from me to reflect on what they accomplished without reference to what they planned to accomplish. It is pretty normal for the work done not to match up with the plans.
However, sometimes it really does seem like the gap is huge. The unexpected comes up and instead of some kind of normal glitch in the plan, it’s like you have been abducted by aliens and the whole plan has to be scrapped so you can deal with that.
As I was checking that quotation and it’s provenance, I noticed that Eisenhower followed up with this:
when you are planning for an emergency you must start with this one thing: the very definition of “emergency” is that it is unexpected, therefore it is not going to happen the way you are planning.
A while ago a client mentioned that sometimes she’d love to be able to put a sign on the door like ones she’d seen in France “Closed due to exceptional circumstances.” I took that idea to my graphic designer and she came up with the image you see here.
Could you use an Abducted by Aliens poster?
“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley” (Robert Burns, To a Mouse)
This sign is to remind you that it isn’t you. You can do this. Sometimes you get figuratively abducted by aliens.
Ways to use the Abducted by Aliens kit:
1) As a door sign.
Let people know you are not available. Write what’s not happening on a post it, stick it on the sign, post on your office door.
2) As a permission slip for yourself.
You made plans. Something unexpected has come up. You aren’t going to be able to do everything you planned.
Write the stuff you are rescheduling on a post it, stick it on the sign, post it above your desk as a reminder.
3) As a way to take the stress out of the exceptional circumstances.
What does abducted by aliens look like this time? Write it on a post-it, stick it over the speech bubble.
Edited May 31, 2016.