Saturday, October 08, 2011

First Impressions Part 3: Have a Plan, for Planning's Sake

Five weeks ago, I took the plunge. I left the job I love and became a quitter. This is the last part of a series on my first impressions working for myself. If you haven't already, check out part 1 on working at home with kids and part 2 on managing your time.

This post is about having a plan. You do have a plan, right? Quitting your job and going on your own requires a plan. The thing is... it's not the plan that's important. As Eisenhower famously said, "I have always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable." Corinne and I went over the budget over and over again. Our income was about to be cut in half and we had to know what that would be like. So we maintained two budgets for a few months, running the numbers "as if."

Now that we're on the other side, it's been interesting. For one, I didn't plan on having so many lunch meetings (they rock!). Though a lot of great people have actually bought me lunch (you know who you are, thanks!), I had to adjust things a bit. Having spent more time recently in the budget, I was more familiar with it and knew what changes could be made (such as dropping our wine club... still a bit sad about that one).

Along with the finances, expectations have to be planned out. For example, my business partner knew I'd still be working in the mornings for Dave Ramsey. My wife expected me to spend Saturdays with the family. My son wanted more play time. My teammates needed more communication and feedback on development. Knowing in advance what expectations would exist has helped me adjust to meet them.

Finally, plan your calendar. I never had to use Google Calendar much because my calendar was pretty basic... come home, spend time with the family and get to work. If something else was going on, it was the exception, not the rule. Over the past five weeks I've jumped into all kinds of great events around this city and it's been incredible. I've started to build some new friendships and make some great connections. I had to convince my wife to ditch the day planner and go digital (hooray!), but I wish I had done that sooner. I wish I had planned out some events beforehand and let my wife know which nights she'd have to put the kids to bed by herself.

All in all, it's been fabulous. Probably one of the greatest things I've come to realize is that each night I can plan a different alarm clock time for the next day. I can adjust based on how I feel, how late it is and what my goals are for the next day. I have flexibility, a form of freedom you don't really appreciate until you have it. I'm so very blessed and I can't wait to see what else I have in front of me to learn.

In summary, make sure you have a plan for:
  • Your finances
  • Your expectations
  • Your calendar

Feel free to leave a comment below even if it's just to say hi. It always makes me smile.

If you have any questions about this or any other post here, please feel free to contact me on Twitter or at luke.stokes at


Hebrews12v2 said...

I am interested more in your use of Google Calendar? In the article are you suggesting your wife and you share the Google calendar to know what each other has on schedule?

Luke said...

Hey Hebrews12v2. Yeah, it's awesome. If you both have Google accounts, just share your calendars with each-other. I have one view where I can see my calendar, the FoxyCart calendar, my wife's calendar, my business partner's calendar along with other calendars I've added such as Nashville Geeks. Each one shows up in a different color so it's really easy to keep track of. Hope that helps.

Jim Woods said...

This is an amazing post. I think you really cover your bases here with this. Very thoughtful and just tells it like it really is. I need to plan a little better. Juggling work, dream gig, and family is a very challenging thing, but it OBVIOUSLY can be done!

Luke Stokes said...

Thanks Jim! It certainly can, it just takes more work than most people are willing to do while getting less sleep than most people are willing to live on. :)